CONTEXT: Earlier detection of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and the recent expansion of treatment possibilities have positively influenced the outlook for patients with this disease. However, progression and treatment response are still not sufficiently predictable. Molecular markers could help to refine individual risk stratification and treatment planning, although they have not yet become clinically routine. OBJECTIVE: This review presents an overview of diagnostic and prognostic molecular markers for RCC and a subgrouping of these markers for different clinical issues. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: Literature and recent meeting abstracts were searched using these terms: renal (cell) carcinoma, molecular/tumor markers, biopsy, blood, urine, disease progression/prognosis, immunohistochemistry, risk factors, and survival. Due to the resulting large number of articles, studies were subjectively selected according to the importance of a study on the field, number of investigated patients, originality, multivariate analyses performed, contrast with previously published data, actuality, and assumed clinical applicability of the described results. More then 90% of the selected studies originated from the past 10 yr; >50% of the articles were written in 2006 or later. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: These data were predominantly obtained via nonrandomized, retrospective, but often controlled studies. Thereby, the resulting level of evidence is 2A/2B. The broad spectrum of described molecular markers (MMs) for RCC consists of markers already extensively studied in other malignancies (eg, p53), as well as MMs typically associated with specific RCC-altered gene functions and pathways (eg, von Hippel-Lindau [VHL]). The main goal of using MMs is to refine the prediction of clinical end points like tumor progression, treatment response, and cancer-specific and/or overall survival. Further, MMs might facilitate the clinical work-up of undefined renal masses and prove to be more convenient tools for screening and follow-up in blood and urine. CONCLUSIONS: Presently, there are a number of promising MMs for diverse clinical questions, but the available data are not yet valid enough for routine, clinical application. We should comply with the demand for large multicenter prospective investigations, stratified for RCC type and treatment modalities, to lift the use of molecular markers in RCC to a practical level, thereby providing a better consultation for our patients regarding diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.
2009. Vol. 55, no 4, 851-63 p.