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Am J Surg Pathol. 2003 May;27(5):673-81.

Intraparenchymal nevus cell aggregates in lymph nodes: a possible diagnostic pitfall with malignant melanoma and carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, 77030, USA.


It is well documented that nevus cells can be found within the fibrous capsule and trabeculae of lymph nodes; however, it is less well known that nevus cells can also be found in the lymph node parenchyma. We report the findings in 13 cases of nevus cell aggregates located within the cortical and/or medullary parenchyma of lymph nodes. Seven of the 13 patients had a primary diagnosis of melanoma, three had no known malignancy, one had breast carcinoma, one had adnexal carcinoma of the skin, and one had squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil. Of the seven patients with melanoma, four had axillary lymph node dissections and three had inguinal lymph node dissections. The patient with adnexal carcinoma had metastatic carcinoma in 14 of 20 lymph nodes that had been dissected; one of them also had intraparenchymal nevus cells. The patient with squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil had an intraparenchymal nevus cell aggregate in one of the 21 dissected lymph nodes; all 21 were negative for carcinoma. Nests of intraparenchymal nevus cells ranged from clusters of only a few cells up to 2.1-mm aggregates. No mitotic figures, prominent nucleoli, or lymphatic-vascular invasion were detected in any of the melanocytic aggregates. The melanocytic cells of the nevus cell aggregates expressed S-100 protein and/or MART-1 but not gp100 protein (HMB-45). Less than 1% of the nevus cells expressed Ki-67. The purpose of this study was to draw attention to the finding of nevus cells in the parenchyma of lymph nodes and to alert pathologists to this as a potential diagnostic pitfall, especially in patients with concurrent melanoma or carcinoma. Awareness that nevus cells can be present in nodal parenchyma, analysis of their morphologic features (including comparison with any previous or existing melanoma or carcinoma), and immunophenotyping will help pathologists to establish the correct diagnosis in most instances.

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