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Mod Pathol. 2004 May;17(5):568-72.

Neuroendocrine differentiation in pure type mammary mucinous carcinoma is associated with favorable histologic and immunohistochemical parameters.

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Department of Anatomical and Cellular Pathology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong.


Mucinous carcinoma of the breast is a specific good prognostic type malignancy occurring in elderly patients. Neuroendocrine differentiation has long been described in mucinous carcinoma, but the significance of such finding is uncertain. We evaluated the neuroendocrine differentiation profiles of 38 cases of pure mucinous carcinoma and compared the clinicopathological differences between those with and those without neuroendocrine differentiation. The parameters assessed included patients' age, tumor size, nuclear grade, axillary lymph node status at time of diagnosis, percentage area of intratumoral mucin, and the expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors, cerbB2 oncoprotein, and three neuroendocrine markers, namely neurone-specific enolase, chromogranin, and synaptophysin by immunohistochemistry. Patients' outcome and follow-up period were also documented. Of the 38 cases of pure mucinous carcinoma, 28, 11 and six cases showed positive staining for 1, 2 and 3 of the neuroendocrine markers. For all the groups with variable neuroendocrine differentiation and compared to those without such differentiation, they all showed older patients' age, higher proportion of tumors with lower nuclear grade, lower incidence of axillary lymph node metastasis, a higher progesterone receptor, and lower cerbB2 oncoprotein expression. No difference was detected between tumor size, intratumoral mucinous area, and estrogen receptor status. In all, 37 patients did not have distant metastases or local recurrences at the end of follow-up period, while one patient with coexisting high-grade ductal carcinoma in situ at time of diagnosis died of breast carcinoma. Our findings suggest that the identification of neuroendocrine differentiation in pure mucinous carcinoma is associated with more favorable histologic and immunohistochemical parameters.

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