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What Is Collecting Duct Carcinoma?

By Jennifer Long
Updated May 17, 2024
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Collecting duct carcinoma is a rare form of kidney cancer. It is aggressive and occurs in the collecting ducts of the kidneys. This particular type of kidney cancer is a result of irregular tube formation as cancer cells form in the tubes. It has few noticeable symptoms before the disease has spread and does not respond to the usual treatments for renal cell cancer.

The kidney contains ducts, called papillary or Bellini ducts, which are responsible for distributing urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Collecting duct carcinoma, also called Bellini duct carcinoma, occurs when epithelial cells of the ducts grow out of control and are abnormal. These cells group together to cause damage and blockages that prevent the ducts from passing urine.

Studies have shown that collecting duct carcinoma is related partially to urothelial carcinoma, also called transitional cell carcinoma, particularly regarding treatments. Most cases of this type of cancer do not respond to the standard chemotherapy medications used for treatment of renal cell cancers. Research has proven that this cancer responds to the same treatments that are used for transitional cell carcinoma. In many instances, Bellini duct carcinoma and transitional cell carcinoma are found together.

Symptoms of collecting duct carcinoma depend largely on how progressed the disease is. Common symptoms include side, back, or abdominal pain. It is also common to have blood in the urine and a fever that comes and goes. Unfortunately, by the time these symptoms begin occurring, the cancer has spread in most patients.

Diagnosis of collecting duct carcinoma can be difficult. Tissue samples are taken from the Bellini ducts and kidneys. When examined under a microscope, this cancer resembles bubble protective wrap. Most patients who are diagnosed with kidney cancer are older, generally around ages 60 to 65. With this version, patients are often younger, averaging between 55 and 58 years old.

Due to the lack of response to regularly used treatments for renal cell carcinoma, collecting duct carcinoma is a bit difficult to treat. It is aggressive and can spread rapidly. Surgery may be necessary to remove obstructions or replace damaged ducts. Aggressive treatment with similar chemotherapy medicines used for transitional cell carcinoma can be effective in preventing this carcinoma from spreading out of control.

The survival rate and success of treatment are dependent on how quickly diagnosis is reached. As with many other forms of cancer, getting a confirmed diagnosis quickly is important. Cancer is most likely to respond to treatment when it is in its earliest stages and has not had the opportunity to spread beyond the kidneys and the collecting ducts.

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