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Int J Surg Pathol. 2012 Jun;20(3):284-96. doi: 10.1177/1066896911417711. Epub 2011 Aug 24.

Metaplastic carcinoma of the breast with dominant squamous and sebaceous differentiation in the primary tumor and osteochondroid metaplasia in a distant metastasis: report of a case with review of sebaceous differentiation in breast tumors.

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Umberto I Hospital, Altamura, Italy.


Metaplastic breast carcinoma is an uncommon tumor that develops from conventional ductal mammary carcinoma, usually consisting of squamous and/or spindle cell components and/or mesenchymal elements. Although several morphological subtypes of metaplastic breast carcinoma are known, sebaceous metaplasia has not yet been described in this context. The authors report a case of an 84-year-old woman with a huge, ulcerated primary tumor in her left breast that had already been present for 10 years. Pulmonary and bone metastases and a tumor nodule in the contralateral breast were also detected at the time of admission. Left simple mastectomy was performed. Histological examination of the tumor revealed metaplastic carcinoma consisting of ductal carcinoma, which immunohistochemically exhibited a triple-negative immunoprofile, along with dominant areas of squamous and sebaceous differentiation. Adjuvant chemotherapy was subsequently given with partial regression of the systemic metastases. Seven months after surgery and diagnosis, a new, rapidly growing, large soft tissue metastatic tumor appeared in the intramuscular compartment of the patient's right thigh, which was removed and histologically examined. Morphologically this metastatic tumor showed ductal adenocarcinoma along with areas of sebaceous differentiation and, in addition, osteochondroid metaplasia. Immunohistochemically, unlike the primary, this tumor expressed HER-2. The case is presented because of its rarity, and sebaceous differentiation is also proposed as a novel type of metaplasia in this context, expanding the spectrum of the histological patterns of metaplastic breast carcinoma. The literature concerning breast sebaceous lesions is reviewed, and the hypothetical biological mechanisms responsible for the tumor pathogenesis in this case are discussed.

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