An 80-year-old man presented with melaena and anaemia of 1 week duration. This was associated with shortness of breath and an indigestion-type pain for the preceding 8 weeks. General physical examination revealed epigastric tenderness, but an otherwise soft abdomen with no organomegaly. The patient had a gastroscopy, showing a polypoidal lesion in the second part of duodenum (D2) as the bleeding point, which was managed with epinephrine injection and endoclips. This was followed by CT of the abdomen, revealing a lobulated 8 cm mass arising from the lower pole of the right kidney and invading the duodenum. The case report aims to acknowledge the possibility of direct duodenal involvement in renal cell carcinoma, which is a rare occurrence.
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In the UK, kidney cancer is the eighth most common cancer, of which 35% of cases present in the 75 years or older age group. The condition has always been implicated with typical presentations comprising one or a combination of the following: macroscopic haematuria, weight loss and a palpable loin mass. A rare mode of presentation that has previously been described in the literature is direct duodenal invasion. It is important to note that only the second part of the duodenum has direct anatomical relation to the right kidney anteriorly. We report a case of an 80-year-old man presenting with an unusual form of duodenal involvement secondary to a renal cell tumour.
An 80-year-old man was admitted due to passing black stools over the week preceding admission, associated with indigestion-type abdominal pain for the same duration. He had a marked anaemia, which was symptomatic with shortness of breath as the main feature. He denied any weight loss or increased appetite. The patient's vital signs were stable, apart from a compensatory sinus tachycardia.
His medical history of note was hiatus hernia; type II diabetes mellitus; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and essential hypertension. The patient was an ex-smoker with a 30 pack-year smoking history.
On admission, he had further melaena, and thus an urgent gastroscopy was performed, which revealed a polypoidal mass arising from anterior second part of duodenum as the source of bleeding. This was injected with epinephrine and endoscopically clipped.
Further to the gastroscopy, a contrast-enhanced CT of the abdomen/pelvis was requested to ascertain the nature of the mass. This surprisingly revealed an 8 cm mass arising from the lower pole of right kidney, with no fat plane to anatomically separate it from the duodenum, as what would be expected, indicating direct invasion into the duodenum.
The patient's case was discussed with the surgical team, who were in agreement that, in view of the patient's comorbidities and poor prognosis of the cancer staging, a palliative approach should be undertaken.
Routine blood tests demonstrated normocytic normochromic anaemia and raised urea, which were consistent with our suspicion of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in this case. Liver functions were normal.
An oesophagogastroduodenoscopy was performed, revealing a bleeding polypoidal mass within the second part of the duodenum (D2). This was treated endoscopically with epinephrine injections and three endoclips. The appearance of the lesion was suspicious of a gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) or polyp, but duodenal varix was an important differential diagnosis to consider. However, the latter was felt less likely in appearance, particularly after endotherapy (figure 1).
Further to this, a contrast-enhanced CT of the abdomen and pelvis was performed to further assess the nature of the mass. It revealed a lobulated 8 cm mass arising from the lower pole of the right kidney with no clear fat plane between the second part of the duodenum and right kidney mass. This was a picture of duodenal invasion by renal cell tumour. Additionally, it showed a distended right renal vein and inferior vena cava (IVC), with low attenuation within the IVC, which was highly suspicious of a tumour thrombus. There was no radiological evidence of duodenal varix (figure 2).
An oesophagogastroduodenoscopy was carried out, revealing a bleeding polypoidal mass within the second part of the duodenum. This was treated endoscopically with epinephrine injections and three endoclips. The appearance of the lesion was suspicious of a GIST or polyp, but duodenal varix was an important differential diagnosis to consider. The latter, however, was felt less likely in appearance, particularly post endotherapy (figure 1).
Further to this, a contrast-enhanced CT of the abdomen and pelvis was performed to further assess the nature of the mass. It revealed a lobulated 8 cm mass arising from the lower pole of the right kidney with no clear fat plane between the second part of the duodenum and right kidney mass. This was a picture of duodenal invasion by renal cell tumour. Additionally, it showed a distended right renal vein and IVC, with low attenuation within the IVC, which was highly suspicious of a tumour thrombus. There was no radiological evidence of duodenal varix (figure 2).
Peptic ulcer disease prior to endoscopy was the most suspected working diagnosis.
Given the appearance of the mass during gastroscopy, other differential diagnoses such as an intestinal polyp versus GIST were raised. Furthermore, considering the patient's significant history of alcohol intake, the possibility of a duodenal varix remained an important differential for exclusion.
Outcome and follow-up
The patient was treated supportively as part of a palliative approach, based on the expected prognosis in view of his staging, and his personal wishes. He therefore did not proceed with assessment for chemotherapy and preferred discharge with supportive treatment from the hospital-at-home team.
Kidney cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the UK.1 , 2 Worldwide, it comprises 2–3% of all malignancies. In the past 10 years, kidney cancer incidence rates in the UK have increased by almost a third.
Risk factors identified include smoking, obesity and hypertension, long-term renal dialysis, tuberous sclerosis, renal transplant recipients, acquired renal cystic disease and von Hippel-Lindau disease.2
Currently, more than 50% of renal cell carcinoma (RCCs) are detected incidentally when non-invasive imaging is used to investigate a variety of non-specific symptoms and other abdominal diseases.3
The classical triad of loin pain, haematuria and flank mass has now become increasingly uncommon. Additionally, 30% of patients with symptomatic RCC display features of a paraneoplastic syndrome.3
Spread of RCC could be lymphatic, haematogenous, transcoelomic, or through direct invasion. The most common sites of metastases in decreasing frequency include lung, lymph nodes, bone and liver, and, rarely, pancreatic metastases.
Treatment options depend, as with all tumours, on the stage and spread at the time of diagnosis. With the only curative treatment being radical nephrectomy in suitable patients, options range from radical or partial nephrectomy and nephron-sparing surgery for localised disease to palliative approaches such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiotherapy in metastatic RCC.3
In this case, we present a patient whose initial presentation was due to upper gastrointestinal bleeding (melaena) with no classical features of RCC. To the best of our knowledge, this is one of few cases of direct duodenal involvement in RCC, as our search has yielded to matching cases.4–7 The vast majority of relevant case reports describe the more recognised metastatic route.8–14
This report and the supporting literature search demonstrate that by investigating those patients presenting with GI bleed, we may in fact find an index presentation for an advanced malignancy such as RCC, as in this case. We acknowledge this is rare and present this case as an interesting differential for upper GI haemorrhage.
Renal cell carcinoma should be recognised as a possible rare cause of gastrointestinal bleeding when a duodenal mass is found on endoscopy.
We would advocate proceeding directly to CT imaging of the abdomen in such a case to quickly clinch the diagnosis, and to avoid delay in further definitive management via liaison with the surgical team.
The classical triad of loin pain, haematuria and flank mass as a mode of presentation for renal cell carcinoma has become increasingly rare, and we should expect more incidental findings with the increased use of cross-sectional imaging.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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