Clinicians’ Real World Perceptions of Pre-Nephrectomy Diagnostic Biopsy Performance as a Driver of Reduction in Unnecessary Surgeries in Renal Tumors

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Kristin Fahy
Lauren Augustine
Mats O Sanden
E. Robert Wassman


Kidney Cancer, Pre-nephrectomy biopsy, oncocytoma, chromophobe RCC, RCC, microRNA diagnostics


Operative removal of oncocytomas is generally unnecessary, but not infrequent in the context of renal masses. The infrequent use of pre-nephrectomy biopsies is a function of historical limitations of histopathological differential diagnosis in this setting. Assessment of clinicians’ receptiveness to a novel molecular diagnostic approach to this challenge was undertaken by means of a survey vehicle administered to 102 practicing urologists and pathologists who met inclusion criteria related to their actual clinical activity. Survey results supported the previously reported observations on misdiagnosis with urologists’ reported rates of 25% inconclusive results, and an additional 17% disagree with the final surgical diagnosis. The self-reported rate of 9% for pre-operative biopsies was comparable to prior reports, but 39% of urologists who are not currently performing pre-operative biopsies expressed interest in introducing them into their practice for this purpose with an improved diagnostic. Almost all urologists (94%) felt it important not to resect benign oncocytomas and 62% indicated they would use a test which improved the ability to sub-type renal tumors pre-operatively. The level of performance benchmark of the unidentified prototypic microRNA-based diagnostic as reported previously in the literature was deemed sufficient to change care in these cases by 73%. Overall they predicted a 38% rate of biopsies and resulting increases in decisions to forgo nephrectomy or to perform only partial nephrectomy. Pathologists also expressed support for the use of this technology in the context of inadequate specimens and for improved sub-typing of these tumors in inconclusive cases. 

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