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American Journal of Surgical Pathology:
Original Article

Tubulolobular Carcinoma of the Breast: An Analysis of 27 Cases of a Tumor With a Hybrid Morphology and Immunoprofile

Wheeler, Darren T. MD*; Tai, Lisa H. MD†; Bratthauer, Gary L. MS, MT (ASCP)*; Waldner, Dale L. MD‡; Tavassoli, Fattaneh A. MD§

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Abstract

Tubulolobular carcinoma (TLC) is a rare subtype of mammary carcinoma that has eluded precise classification, exhibiting features of both ductal and lobular differentiation. The clinicopathologic features of 27 cases of TLC were analyzed by both hematoxylin and eosin and immunohistochemical stains for E-cadherin and 34βE12 (high molecular weight cytokeratin). Five cases of both pure tubular and classic lobular carcinoma were included as controls. Patients with TLC ranged in age from 43 to 79 years (median, 60 years). Tumor characteristics were as follows: size, 0.5 cm to 2.5 cm (median, 1.4 cm); bilaterality, 1 of 27 (4%); and multifocality, 5 of 27 (19%). Twenty-two of the 27 cases (81%) contained an in situ component: 8 (36%) lobular (LIN); 4 (18%) ductal (DIN); and 10 (46%) mixed. All 27 cases were intensely positive (3+) for E-cadherin, a feature of ductal differentiation, while 25 of 27 (93%) cases showed variable positivity for 34βE12 (1 to 3+), a feature far more common in tumors with lobular differentiation. Clinical follow-up was available on 25 of 27 (93%) patients. Three of 24 (13%) patients developed axillary lymph node metastases and 1 of 25 (4%) patients developed a local recurrence over a follow-up period of 2 to 91 months (median, 39 months). In conclusion, TLCs are a distinct subtype of mammary carcinoma with overlapping morphologic features that are mirrored by a hybrid immunohistochemical profile. The uniform 3+ expression of E-cadherin in TLC supports the ductal differentiation of these tumors, despite a dominant lobular growth pattern. The prognosis of these tumors appears to be excellent, especially in those cases that are unilateral and less than 2 cm in size.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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