Clear cell adenocarcinoma of the bladder and urethra: cases diffusely mimicking nephrogenic adenoma

Mehsati Herawi, Peter A. Drew, Chin Chen Pan, Jonathan Ira Epstein

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Although clear cell adenocarcinoma have been described focally mimicking nephrogenic adenoma, we have identified a subset of clear cell adenocarcinoma that diffusely resembles nephrogenic adenoma (nephrogenic adenoma-like clear cell adenocarcinoma). Twelve classic clear cell adenocarcinomas of the bladder and urethra and 7 nephrogenic adenoma-like clear cell adenocarcinomas were compared to 10 nephrogenic adenomas. Classic clear cell adenocarcinomas and nephrogenic adenoma-like clear cell adenocarcinomas comprised 4 men and 15 women. The following features were seen in classic clear cell adenocarcinomas: nephrogenic adenoma-like clear cell adenocarcinomas: predominantly solid pattern (7/12:0/7), marked nuclear pleomorphism (7/12:1/7), prominent nucleoli (5/12:1/7), clear cytoplasm in 50% or greater of tumor (7/12:0/7), and necrosis (8/12:3/7), although the necrosis in nephrogenic adenoma-like clear cell adenocarcinomas was often focal and intraluminal. Both patterns of clear cell adenocarcinomas showed prominent hobnail features, although more pronounced in nephrogenic adenoma-like clear cell adenocarcinomas. Muscularis propria invasion was seen in 5 of 9 classic clear cell adenocarcinomas and 6 of 6 nephrogenic adenoma-like clear cell adenocarcinomas, where evaluable. Classic clear cell adenocarcinoma was associated with urothelial carcinoma (n = 2) and endometriosis (n = 1). The Ki-67 rate in clear cell adenocarcinomas ranged from 10% to 80% compared with 0% to 5% in nephrogenic adenoma. The following antibodies were not helpful in distinguishing nephrogenic adenoma-like clear cell adenocarcinoma from nephrogenic adenoma: CD10, estrogen receptor, p63, high-molecular-weight cytokeratin, and α-methylacyl coenzyme-A racemase. PAX2 expression was more frequent in nephrogenic adenoma (89%) compared to both patterns of clear cell adenocarcinoma (29%-32%). The key features discriminating between nephrogenic adenoma-like clear cell adenocarcinoma and nephrogenic adenoma include occasional clear cells, more prominent pleomorphism especially hyperchromatic enlarged nuclei, and extensive muscular invasion. Presence of mitoses and a high rate of Ki-67 expression in lesions resembling nephrogenic adenoma require clinical correlation, close follow-up, and repeat biopsy with more extensive sampling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-601
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010



  • Bladder
  • Clear cell adenocarcinoma
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Nephrogenic adenoma
  • Nephrogenic adenoma-like carcinoma
  • PAX2
  • Urethra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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