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Image of the Month (2011-2)



Metaplastic carcinoma with heterologous elements



Clinical cancer in a 45 year old female - macroscopically approx 25mm - low power view (x4) of core biopsy

Metaplastic carcinoma - low power

Detail - from above. Extensive spindle cell differentiation with atypia. 'Mouse over' for further detail and note occasional mitoses.

Metaplastic carcinoma - low power


Further view of widespread spindle cell pattern. Note focus osteoid in top left corner ('Mouse over')

Metaplastic carcinoma with heterologous focus


Closer view of osteoid focus (heterologous element).('Mouse over') for a further view of more of the spindle cell area with another mitosis.
Metaplastic carcinoma - heterologous focus and mitoses


Detail showing focal epithelial differentiation with the poly cytokeratin AE1/3. As is common in these tumours the epithelioid areas stain with basal-type markers - in this case CK14 - 'Mouse-over'.
Metaplastic carcinoma - immuno


This case raises four important points:

  1. The differential diagnosis of an atypical spindle cell lesion of the breast includes fibromatosis, phyllodes tumour and spindle cell or metaplastic carcinoma (see links below). Metaplastic carcinoma is the most common.


  2. There are good morphological pointers in this case away from the first two diagnoses and the heterologous focus helps lead you towards a diagnosis of metaplastic carcinoma.


  3. The diagnosis of metaplastic carcinoma must be excluded in this scenario. Examine extra levels, put more tissue through if available and look for epithelial differentiation using immunohistochemistry.


  4. This case is unusual in that the foci of epithelial differentiation were identified ONLY by immuno - there were no epithelioid areas on H & E morphology - even when going back to the H & E sections having seen the immuno.



See also Case of the Month August 2007 - Metaplastic carcinoma.

See also Image of the Week 2009-2 - Metaplastic carcinoma.

See also Image of the Week 2010-3 - Metaplastic carcinoma with heterologous, rhabdomyoblastic, elements.

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