Renal cell carcinoma metastatic to the pancreas: Clinical and radiological features

Reza Ghavamian, Katherine A. Klein, David H. Stephens, Timothy J. Welch, Andrew J. Leroy, Ronald L. Richardson, Patrick A. Burch, Horst Zincke

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129 Scopus citations


Objective: To review the clinical features, computed tomographic (CT) appearance, and treatment outcomes in a case series of patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) metastatic to the pancreas. Patients and Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of 23 patients (15 men and 8 women) with RCC metastatic to the pancreas, detected by CT examination between 1986 and 1996. All patients had undergone a previous nephrectomy for RCC. Results: Isolated mild elevation in liver function test results (in 5 patients) or in serum amylase level (in 8 patients) was observed. New-onset diabetes was detected in 3 patients. The CT characteristics of the pancreatic metastases generally resembled those of primary RCC with well-defined margins and greater enhancement than normal pancreas with a central area of low attenuation. The mean interval between resection of the primary RCC and detection of the pancreatic metastases was 116 months (range, 1-295 months). In 18 patients (78%), the pancreatic metastases were diagnosed more than 5 years after nephrectomy. The pancreas was the initial metastatic site in 12 patients (52%). Survival was shortened with higher tumor grade (mean survival time of 41 months and 10 months in patients with grade 2 and 3, respectively). Surgical resection was carried out in 11 patients (7 distal and 3 total pancreatectomies and 1 distal pancreatectomy followed 4 years later by total pancreatectomy), with 8 patients alive at a mean follow-up of 4 years, 6 of whom remained free of recurrence. Overall, 12 patients (52%) were alive at a mean of 42 months after diagnosis of metastatic disease. Conclusions: The appearance of metastatic RCC lesions in the pancreas closely resembles the appearance of primary RCC on CT images. Pancreatic metastases from RCC are frequently detected many years after nephrectomy. Patient survival correlates with tumor grade. Histologic analysis of pancreatic masses in patients with a history of resected primary RCC is important since the prognosis for RCC metastatic to the pancreas is much better than that for primary pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-585
Number of pages5
JournalMayo Clinic Proceedings
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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