What is Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma?

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A rare type of kidney cancer and research currently being conducted in this area.
A rare type of kidney cancer and research currently being conducted in this area.

What is chromophobe kidney cancer?

Chromophobe renal cell carcinoma is a rare type of kidney cancer. This type of cancer forms in the cells lining the small tubules in the kidney. These small tubules help filter waste from the blood, making urine. All types of kidney cancer are different, making it even more important to characterize each one.1

In 2012, it is estimated that there will be 64,770 new cases of kidney cancer and 13,570 deaths as a result of this disease.2 Chromophobe kidney cancer accounts for 5% of these cancer cases. This rare type of cancer can run in families as part of a rare genetic disorder called Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome.3 The disorder's genetic nature has allowed researchers a small window of opportunity to study it; however, very little is known about the genetic basis of sporadic (non-hereditary) chromophobe kidney cancer.

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) is studying the sporadic cases of this type of kidney cancer. Although this cancer subtype is rare, it is still a serious disease. The only treatment option for patients with chromophobe kidney cancer is surgery.4

Because of the rare nature of chromophobe kidney cancer, TCGA expects to collect a small number of samples: approximately 60. TCGA hopes that this project will be the first in a series of rare tumor characterization efforts.

What types of discoveries about chromophobe kidney cancer do TCGA researchers hope to make?

  • Identify unique patterns of genomic changes that distinguish this subtype of kidney cancer
  • Examine genetic markers that may be predictive of metastasis
  • Determine if a specific genomic signature is connected to tumor recurrence after surgery
  • Genomically differentiate chromophobe kidney cancer and clear cell kidney cancer
  • Gain understanding of the genomic basis of chromophobe kidney cancer to provide the foundation for the development of an effective form of therapy for patients

Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network's studies or studies using TCGA data?

View a list of TCGA scientific publications.

Where can I find clinical trials to treat chromophobe kidney cancer that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)? 

View a list of NCI-supported kidney cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients. 


Source: National Cancer Institute, The Cancer Genome Atlas


Selected References

  1. Linehan, W.M. and Ricketts, C.J. (2012) The metabolic basis of kidney cancer. Semin Cancer Biol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcancer.2012.06.002
  2. American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2012. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2012. 
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2012) Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome. Genomics Home Reference. Retrieved from http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/birt-hogg-dube-syndrome
  4. Stec, R., Grala, B., Mączewski, M., Lubomir, B. and Szczylik, C. (2009) Chromophobe renal cell cancer – review of the literature and potential methods of treating metastatic disease. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 28(134): doi:  10.1186/1756-9966-28-134
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