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American Journal of Surgical Pathology:
Original Articles

Pleomorphic Lobular Carcinoma: Morphology, Immunohistochemistry, and Molecular Analysis

Middleton, L. P. M.D.; Palacios, D. M. M.D.; Bryant, B. R. M.T.; Krebs, P. M.D.; Otis, C. N. M.D.; Merino, M. J. M.D.

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Abstract

Infiltrating pleomorphic lobular carcinoma (PLC) is an aggressive variant of infiltrating lobular carcinoma. Recently, in situ changes identical to PLC (PLCIS) have been described. The role of prognostic markers and their correlation with therapeutics, clinical outcome, and genetic changes is not well established in PLC. The authors examined 38 cases of this entity to understand better this tumor's biology. Immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis was performed in 21 specimens for estrogen and progesterone steroid receptors, p53, Her 2 (p185), and GCDFP-15. Genomic deoxyribonucleic acid was obtained from microdissected tumor as well as normal control cells, and loss of heterozygosity was investigated at the ESR (16q24), p53 (TP53 17p), Her 2 (17q 11-12), and BRCA 1 (17q12-25) loci. In this series, the average patient age was 57.5 years (age range, 24–92 years). Twenty-seven women were postmenopausal. Tumor size ranged from 1.2 to 25 cm. Six patients were a pathologic stage I; 19, stage II; 12, stage III; and one, stage IV. Histologically, multifocal nodular aggregates of discohesive pleomorphic tumor cells were seen interspersed in dense and fibrotic breast parenchyma. Twenty-nine percent of the specimens demonstrated associated signet ring cells. The remainder had dishesive, globoid, plasmacytoid cells with high-grade nuclear features. PLCIS was identified in 17 of 38 patients (45%), and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) was noted in 8 patients (21%). IHC analysis showed estrogen immunoreactivity in 81%, progesterone in 67%, GCDFP-15 in 71%, and Her 2 in 81% (2+ to 3+ membranous staining) of specimens. Antibodies to p53 stained the tumor cell nuclei in 48% of the tumors. Loss of heterozygosity was identified in 52% of the specimens at the p53 locus, 18% at the ESR locus, 19% to 24% at the Her 2 loci, and 27% to 32% at the BRCA 1 locus. Follow-up was available in 19 patients and ranged from 12 months to 15 years (mean, 73 months). Seven patients had no evidence of disease at last examination (range, 1–15 years), three patients were alive with disease (range, 2–14 years), and nine patients were dead of disease (range, 2 months–9 years). Six patients had subsequent diagnoses of tumor in the contralateral breast. Analysis shows that PLC tends to appear in older postmenopausal women who present with locally advanced disease. PLCIS was found to be associated with PLC 45% of the time. The aggressive clinical course of patients with PLC is supported by tumor immunoreactivity with unfavorable markers Her 2 and p53. Overexpression of Her 2 in PLC may be therapeutically relevant, enabling the use of novel chemotherapeutic drugs like Herceptin. Interestingly, tumors that were Her 2 immunoreactive also maintained estrogen hormone immunoreactivity.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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