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Am J Clin Pathol. 2001 Dec;116(6):823-30.

Value of p63 and cytokeratin 5/6 as immunohistochemical markers for the differential diagnosis of poorly differentiated and undifferentiated carcinomas.

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Institute of Pathology, Charité University Hospital, Berlin, Germany.


To facilitate the differential diagnosis of poorly differentiated metastatic carcinomas of unknown primary site, we evaluated p63 and cytokeratin (CK) 5/6 as immunohistochemical markers for squamous cell carcinomas. The study cases were as follows: squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs, head/neck, esophagus, cervix uteri, or anal canal, 73; non-squamous cell carcinomas of various primary sites, 141; and urothelial carcinoma, 20. We also tested 14 malignant mesotheliomas. Immunoreactivity for p63 was as follows: squamous cell carcinomas, 59 (81%); urothelial carcinoma, 14 (70%), most often with diffuse staining patterns; non-squamous cell carcinomas, 20 (14.2%), resulting in a specificity of 0.86 of p63 for squamous cell carcinomas. Coexpression of p63 and CK5/6 had a sensitivity of 0.77 and a specificity of 0.96 for squamous cell carcinomas. Increasing the minimal criterion of positive immunostaining for both markers to more than 50% of immunoreactive tumor cells resulted in a specificity of 0.99, although the sensitivity diminished to 0.66. All malignant mesotheliomas were negative for p63. Our data suggest that positive immunostaining for both p63 and CK5/6 in poorly differentiated metastatic carcinomas is highly predictive of a primary tumor of squamous epithelial origin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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