Most renal cell carcinomas (RCC) are diagnosed from studying the cells from a biopsy under a microscope (histology findings), with and without the use of antibodies to check for certain proteins in the tumour tissue (immunohistochemical examination). RCC tumours are very heterogeneous – there are many subtypes of RCC which have different appearances under the microscope (variable morphology), different immunohistochemical features, and different molecular features.

Most RCC tumours also have distinct molecular and genetic features which can be detected using various methods. Furthermore, molecular-genetic testing can be used for an accurate diagnosis of RCC subtype, and some scientists are now using a “histo-molecular” approach to help diagnose RCC subtypes.

This review presents the most current knowledge of the molecular-genetic aspects of RCC tumours, which potentially can be used in daily diagnostic practice.

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