Purpose of review: Although pathological findings including tumour grade and tumour-node-metastasis stage provide prognostic information, the outcome for patients with renal cell carcinoma is occasionally unpredictable. Many studies have been undertaken to improve prediction of the prognosis of renal cell carcinoma, along with efforts to clarify the pathogenesis of renal cell carcinoma at the molecular level. This article reviews the advances in renal cell carcinoma research relevant to pathology published between 1 May 2002 and 30 April 2003. Recent findings: The establishment of a strict tumour grading system or adding microscopic venous invasion or tumour necrosis is potentially useful for predicting patient outcomes. The contribution of the von Hippel-Lindau-related pathway in early carcinogenesis has been partly revealed with regard to angiogenesis and cell cycle control. Tumour development in renal cell carcinoma can be considered as accumulating heterogenous molecular events related to cytokine production, cell cycle control, anti-apoptotic signal machinery and angiogenesis. Summary: Finding the target genes related to the von Hippel-Lindau pathway may explain the resistance of chemotherapy, and also provide a clue to finding a novel therapeutic option. Molecular targeting therapy can be applicable after more general molecules leading to tumour development and the metastasis of renal cell carcinoma have been identified.
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