Evaluation and management of small renal masses: looking beyond the tumor margin.
In an effort to preserve renal function, nephron-sparing approaches such as partial nephrectomy are now routinely performed for the treatment of small renal masses (SRMs). To date, several groups have studied the utility of examining the renal parenchyma contained beyond the tumor margin of partial nephrectomy specimens for histopathologic evidence of non-neoplastic disease processes. The diagnosis of progressive renal disease through the study of this tissue allows for early medical intervention with possible further preservation of renal function. In this review, we discuss the management of SRMs with an emphasis on the emerging role of evaluating tumor specimens for non-neoplastic pathologic abnormalities. We believe that the thorough study of tissue contained beyond the tumor margin of partial nephrectomy specimens is the next step in preserving renal function and improving survival for patients with SRMs.