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Am J Surg Pathol. 2008 Sep;32(9):1421-6. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e3181648d6d.

Primary cutaneous ALCL with phosphorylated/activated cytoplasmic ALK and novel phenotype: EMA/MUC1+, cutaneous lymphocyte antigen negative.

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Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


Primary cutaneous anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) ordinarily is distinguished from systemic ALCL by clinical presentation, absence of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) expression, and immunophenotype (CLA+, EMA/MUC1-). We present an exceptional case of an elderly man with primary cutaneous ALCL and no systemic disease for a 13-year period. Recurrent skin tumors in this patient were characterized by anaplastic, often multinucleated, cells infiltrating the lymphatics and associated with pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia. Cutaneous lymphocyte antigen was absent and EMA/MUC1, typical of systemic ALCL, was strongly expressed by the tumor cells. Remarkably, the tumor cells expressed a cytoplasmic-only variant of ALK protein, as reported in 3 previous cases of primary cutaneous ALCL. Fluorescence in situ hybridization revealed lack of rearrangements of the chromosome 2 ALK gene locus usually involved by translocation t(2;5) or other chromosomal rearrangements that generate nucleophosmin-ALK or the variant ALK fusions that occur in systemic ALCL. Nonetheless, the cytoplasmic ALK protein in the patient's tumor cells was shown to be phosphorylated/activated, suggesting a novel mechanism of ALK activation. Primary cutaneous ALCL of this novel subtype should be distinguished from systemic ALCL to ensure proper clinical management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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