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Diagn Cytopathol. 2009 Jun;37(6):393-6. doi: 10.1002/dc.20983.

Mucinous breast carcinoma with myoepithelial-like spindle cells.

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  • 1Department of Medical Life Science, Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts, Okayama, Japan.


Appearance of spindle cells has been believed as a benign index of breast cytology. But, we have frequently observed the spindle cells in smears from mucinous carcinoma of the breast. Here, we characterized the biochemical nature of the spindle cells, so as to clarify their identity in cytology. Nineteen cases of breast mucinous carcinoma were used for cytological examination. The spindle cells were located at edges of tumor cell nests and in the backgrounds of cytological specimens. Immunohistological examination revealed that the spindle cells exhibited both immunoreactivity against carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and epithelial membrane antigen (EMA). Immunoreactivity against vimentin, cytokeratin, or alpha-smooth muscle actin was, however, not observed. The mode of distribution of biochemical markers suggests that the positive cells for anti-CEA antibody and anti-EMA antibody are tumor cells compressed by mucin, while the vimentin-positive cells are fibroblasts. We assert that the presence of spindle cells can be a characteristic feature of mucinous carcinoma of the breast. Discrimination of the spindle cells in mucinous carcinoma from myoepithelial cells and naked bipolar nuclei in benign lesions was established here. It should facilitate precise diagnosis of breast cancer.

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