What are the histologic characteristics of collecting duct carcinoma in renal cell carcinoma (RCC)?

Updated: Feb 19, 2021
  • Author: Kush Sachdeva, MD; Chief Editor: E Jason Abel, MD  more...
  • Print

Collecting duct carcinoma is an unusual variant characterized by a very aggressive clinical course. This disease tends to affect younger patients and may present as local or widespread advanced disease. These cells can have three different types of growth patterns: acinar, sarcomatoid, and tubulopapillary. The sarcomatoid variant, which can occur with any histologic cell type, is associated with a significantly poorer prognosis.

The following table provides a brief summary of the 5 histologic subtypes of renal cell carcinoma.

Table. Pathologic Classification of Renal Cell Carcinoma (Open Table in a new window)

Cell Type


Growth Pattern

Cell of Origin


Clear cell

Most common

Acinar or sarcomatoid

Proximal tubule



Bilateral and multifocal

Papillary or sarcomatoid

Proximal tubule

+7, +17, -Y


Indolent course

Solid, tubular, or sarcomatoid

Cortical collecting duct



Rarely metastasize

Tumor nests

Cortical collecting duct


Collecting duct

Very aggressive

Papillary or sarcomatoid

Medullary collecting duct


Go to Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma and Sarcomatoid and Rhabdoid Renal Cell Carcinoma for complete information on these topics.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!