High-grade Serous Carcinoma can Show Squamoid Morphology Mimicking True Squamous Differentiation : The American Journal of Surgical Pathology

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High-grade Serous Carcinoma can Show Squamoid Morphology Mimicking True Squamous Differentiation

Tomonobe, Hiroshi MD*; Ohishi, Yoshihiro MD, PhD*,†; Hachisuga, Kazuhisa MD, PhD; Yahata, Hideaki MD, PhD; Kato, Kiyoko MD, PhD; Oda, Yoshinao MD, PhD*

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The American Journal of Surgical Pathology 47(9):p 967-976, September 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000002089


Tubo-ovarian high-grade serous carcinoma (HG-SC) and ovarian endometrioid carcinoma (EC) can show overlapping morphologic features, such as glandular and solid patterns. The differential diagnosis of these subtypes is thus sometimes difficult. The existence of “squamous differentiation” tends to lead to a diagnosis of EC rather than HG-SC. We noticed that HG-SC can contain a “squamoid component,” but its nature has been poorly investigated. This study was thus established to clarify the nature of this “squamoid component” in HG-SC by investigating its frequency and immunohistochemical features. We reviewed hematoxylin and eosin–stained slides of 237 primary untreated cases of tubo-ovarian HG-SC and identified 16 cases (6.7%) of HG-SC with “squamoid component.” An immunohistochemical staining panel (CK5/6, CK14, CK903, p40, p63, WT1, ER, and PgR) was used to analyze all of these 16 cases. We also selected 14 cases of ovarian EC with “squamous differentiation” as a control. The “squamoid component” in HG-SC was completely p40-negative and showed significantly lower expression of CK5/6, CK14, CK903, and p63 than the “squamous differentiation” in EC. The immunophenotype of the “squamoid component” in HG-SC was concordant with the conventional HG-SC component (WT1-positive/ER-positive). Furthermore, all 16 tumors were confirmed to be truly “HG-SC” by the findings of aberrant p53 staining pattern and/or WT1/p16 positivity, and the lack of mismatch repair deficiency and POLE mutation. In conclusion, HG-SC can on rare occasions show a “squamoid component” mimicking “squamous differentiation.” However, the “squamoid component” in HG-SC does not represent true “squamous differentiation.” The “squamoid component” is one part of the morphologic spectrum of HG-SC, which should be interpreted carefully for the differential diagnosis of HG-SC and EC. An immunohistochemical panel including p40, p53, p16, and WT1 is a useful adjunct to achieve a correct diagnosis.

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