Small Renal Masses in Close Proximity to the Collecting System and Renal Sinus Are Enriched for Malignancy and High Fuhrman Grade and Should Be Considered for Early Intervention

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The small renal mass is a heterogeneous entity that needs careful consideration before treatment selection. Merging radiographic and clinical-pathological data from 334 patients we aimed to assess if renal mass anatomical characteristics were associated with malignancy and high-grade histology. Nearness to the collecting system was the only variable found to be associated with the diagnosis of cancer and high-grade disease.


Recent reports show a correlation between renal tumor radiographic characteristics and pathologic features. We hypothesize that a more central location within the relatively hypoxic renal medulla might confer a more aggressive tumor phenotype. To test this, radiographic tumor characteristics were compared with tumor grade and histology.

Materials and Methods:

We retrospectively reviewed renal masses <4 cm in diameter that underwent resection between 2008 and 2013. Tumor location was recorded using standard R.E.N.A.L. Nephrometry Score. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to compare independent anatomic features with incidence of malignancy and high nuclear grade.


A total of 334 renal tumors had information available for analysis. Univariate analysis showed that increasing endophycity and proximity to the collecting system (<4 mm) were predictors of malignancy and high-grade features. In multivariate analysis, proximity to the collecting system <4 mm remained the as the only anatomical variable predictive of malignancy (odds ratio [OR], 3.58; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-12.05; P = .04) and high nuclear grade (OR, 2.81; 95% CI, 1.44-5.51; P = .003).


Malignancy and high tumor grade occur with much greater frequency when tumors are located deep in the kidney, in close proximity to the collecting system and renal sinus. Ninety-six percent of small renal masses in this region were cancers and nearly half were Fuhrman Grade 3 or 4, suggesting that these small centrally located tumors should be targeted for early intervention.

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