Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) represents a heterogeneous group of cancers arising from the nephron. Traditionally, the treatment decisions are made by doctors based on the histologic types of the tumors and their clinical stages. Over 90% of RCC could be divided into 3 major types of tumor under the microscope by pathologists: clear cell, papillary, and chromophobe, and chemotherapy or other treatment options are usually selected according to which type of a patient’s tumor falls into. However, the treatment results of RCC are not good in many cases because the microscope-based tumor classification approach don’t have the power to provide sufficient clinical information to guide the clinical treatment. This situation will be changed in the near future with the advances of large scale of genetic research on the RCC.
A group of scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine and their collaborators performed genetic research on nearly 900 cases of RCC at multiple levels and found out that the 3 major types of kidney cancer are actually consisted of 9 different subtypes when the cancer cells are looked at not only under the microscope but with multiple genetic analysis as well. Each subtype has its specific genetic abnormality, molecular pathway and degree of immune cell involvement. Also, different survival situation is associated with different genetic subtype.
This scientific finding is very important to improve the treatment of RCC in the future. More research will be performed by this group of scientists to develop clinical applications of their research findings, which will allow the doctors to select more effective treatment approaches based on the 9 subtypes of RCC and provide patients with more personalized strategies and precision medicine that are tailored to each patient’s specific genetic abnormalities.
Michael Wang, MD, PhD, Chief Science Officer, NFCR