Renal medullary carcinoma involving serous cavity fluids: a cytomorphologic study of 12 cases

Daniel L. Miller, Efrain A. Ribeiro, Sinchita Roy-Chowdhuri, Peter B. Illei, Momin T. Siddiqui, Syed Z. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Renal medullary carcinoma (RMC) is a highly lethal adenocarcinoma with a propensity for widespread metastatic disease in young patients. It is strongly associated with sickle cell trait and shows the loss of SMARCB1 (also known as INI1 or BAF47) protein expression. In the present study, we reviewed a series of 12 patients for whom the cytology specimens played a significant role in patient treatment. Materials and methods: We performed a retrospective case review of patients with a history of RMC from 3 large tertiary care pathology practices. Results: A total of 12 patients were identified with histologically confirmed RMC who had had pleural, pericardial, or urine specimens involved by their disease or had undergone initial kidney fine needle aspiration. Patient age ranged from 13 to 37 years (median, 21.5 years). All 12 patients were black or of African descent, and 10 had a confirmed history of sickle cell trait. Of the 12 patients, 11 (92%) had fluid specimens involved by metastatic tumor at some point in their clinical course, and 4 (33%) had initially presented with pericardial and/or pleural effusions or urine specimens that were positive for malignancy. Cytologic examination predominantly showed fragments of 3-dimensional “tumor balls” with smooth borders, fine pale cytoplasm with vacuolization, and highly pleomorphic nuclei with irregular nuclear membranes and coarse to vesicular chromatin and single prominent nucleoli. Conclusions: The cytomorphology of RMC involving serous fluids is nonspecific and in keeping with metastatic high-grade adenocarcinoma. In a young patient presenting with no history of malignancy and a pleural or pericardial effusion, triaging the material for ancillary studies and a nuanced assessment of patient history and radiologic findings will be critical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Society of Cytopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Anemia
  • Carcinoma
  • Cytopathology
  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Kidney neoplasms
  • Pleural fluid
  • Renal medullary
  • Serous cavity fluids
  • Sickle cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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