Purpose Most small renal cell carcinomas (small RCCs) will remain indolent after detection, but some stage I RCCs still metastasize. There are no risk-stratification imaging factors that could be used to identify poor-prognosis patients based on genomic profiling. Here, we evaluated the relationships between imaging parameters and RNA expressions in small RCC and attempted to identify imaging factors that could be used as effective biomarkers. Methods We acquired biopsy specimens of 18 clear cell carcinomas that had undergone perfusion CT (pCT) and MRI between April 2018 and March 2019. We performed RNA sequencing, assessed RNA expressions, and calculated each tumor’s cell-cycle progression (CCP) score, which has prognostic value in predicting metastatic progression. We classified the tumors into two groups: clear cell type A (ccA) and type B (ccB). CcA has better survival compared to ccB. We evaluated the following characteristics of each tumor: tumor size, presence of pseudocapsule, and fat. We used the pCT and MRI to measure each tumor’s volume transfer constant (Ktrans), rate constant (Kep), extracellular extravascular volume fraction (VE), fractional plasma volume (VP), and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC). The correlations between these small RCC imaging parameters and the tumor size and RNA expressions were determined. Results The tumor size was significantly correlated with Kep and inversely correlated with VE, VP, ADC, and hallmark angiogenesis. The CCP score was significantly inversely correlated with Ktrans and Kep. The ccA tumors tended to show a pseudocapsule on MRI. Conclusion Tumor size was correlated with low perfusion, but not with prognostic factors based on genomic profiling. Imaging parameters (e.g., Ktrans and Kep) and tumor characteristics (e.g., pseudocapsule) may enable gene-based risk stratification in small RCC.
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