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Med Mol Morphol. 2006 Mar;39(1):8-13.

New trends of immunohistochemistry for making differential diagnosis of breast lesions.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Tohoku University Hospital, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Japan.


Immunohistochemistry is widely used for pathological diagnosis of breast lesions. Other than hormone receptors and HER2/neu analysis for primary breast carcinomas, several markers may be useful for differential diagnoses, although in limited situations. To decide the malignant potential of intraductal proliferative lesions, analysis for the staining pattern of cytokeratins may be a good reference. Most ductal carcinoma in situ cases are diffusely positive for luminal cell markers (CK8, CK18, CK19), but negative for basal cell markers (CK5/6 and CK14). However, usual ductal hyperplasia may show the mosaic staining patterns for any of these markers, which may indicate a heterogeneous cell population in benign lesions. Myoepithelial markers (alpha-SMA, myosin, calponin, p63, CD10) are almost consistently positive for benign papillomas but they do not completely distinguish intraductal papillary carcinomas. Preservation of myoepithelial layer is the diagnostic key when looking at benign sclerosing lesions, including carcinoma with pseudoinvasive structures. E-cadherin is mostly positive for ductal carcinomas but negative for lobular carcinomas. Some of the lobular carcinomas are positive for 34betaE12, but they are consistently negative for CK5/6. Comparison with histopathological findings of hematoxylin and eosin is essential to make proper diagnosis in the individual case.

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