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Granulosa Cell Tumors of the Ovary With Prominent Thecoma-like Foci

A Report of 16 Cases Emphasizing the Ongoing Utility of the Reticulin Stain in the Modern Era

Stall, Jennifer N., M.D.; Young, Robert H., M.D.

International Journal of Gynecological Pathology: March 2019 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 143–150
doi: 10.1097/PGP.0000000000000508

Sixteen adult granulosa cell tumors which had conspicuous zones of cells with pale cytoplasm imparting a resemblance to thecoma are reported. The neoplasms occurred in patients from 38 to 86 yr of age, the majority being over 55 yr of age. Ten tumors were incidental findings, the remainder being associated with symptoms or signs related to an adnexal mass. All the tumors were unilateral, typically small, usually under 5 cm, with only 3 being larger. With 1 exception they were uniformly solid and were typically entirely or focally yellow on sectioning. Microscopic examination typically showed a nodular pattern of growth constituted by cells with moderate to abundant pale cytoplasm; the cells resembled those seen in most thecomas. The nodules occasionally became confluent and focally a diffuse pattern was seen. Typical foci of adult granulosa cell neoplasia in the form of foci of conspicuous epithelial differentiation were absent or rare in most cases but were seen in subtle form in 6 cases and overtly in 3. A few tumors had other features seen in some thecomas, hyaline plaques, sclerosis, and calcification. Reticulin stains were examined in 13 cases and showed that the thecoma-like foci exhibited a dearth of reticulum indicating that those areas were predominantly of granulosa cell nature. Most adult granulosa cell tumors have cells with scant cytoplasm; occasional tumors have abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm, so-called luteinized adult granulosa cell tumors. That some granulosa cell tumors have the cytoplasmic features described herein has occasionally been noted but the resemblance to thecoma has not been emphasized to the best of our knowledge and in the past such tumors may have been misdiagnosed as thecoma, the referral diagnosis in 6 of our cases. A reticulin stain is of crucial aid in indicating the epithelial nature of the thecoma-like foci in these cases. Given the small size of the majority of the tumors the distinction between a small adult granulosa cell tumor and thecoma does not have significant prognostic or therapeutic implications in most cases but awareness of this feature of a small subset of adult granulosa cell tumors is warranted. Our findings have import to the diagnosis of thecoma which is uncommon if strict criteria, including exclusion of granulosa tumors of the type described, are used.

Hospital Pathology Associates, Minneapolis, Minnesota (J.N.S.)

The James Homer Wright Pathology Laboratories, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (R.H.Y.)

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Address correspondence to Robert H. Young, MD, The James Homer Wright Pathology Laboratories, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, MA. E-mail:

©2019International Society of Gynecological Pathologists