Papillary renal cell carcinoma: A type of kidney cancer that accounts for 15 to 20% of renal carcinomas. It occurs in both sporadic and familial forms. Hereditary papillary renal carcinoma is characterized by the development of multiple papillary tumors in both kidneys. The pattern of inheritance is consistent with autosomal dominant transmission with reduced penetrance. The disorder is distinct from other forms of inherited kidney cancer.