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Hum Pathol. 1995 Feb;26(2):217-22.

Metallothionein expression in duct carcinoma in situ of the breast.

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Department of Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, UK.


In a previous study immunocytochemically detectable metallothionein (MT) expression in tumor cells of invasive duct carcinoma of the breast was shown to be associated with a more aggressive behavior and these findings have been subsequently confirmed by others. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence and significance of MT positivity in preinvasive duct carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Fifty-five specimens of pure screen-detected DCIS were stained immunocytochemically for MT using the antibody E9. The intensity and distribution of MT staining were assessed using a semiquantitative method resulting in intensity distribution (ID) scores allowing duct by duct analysis in relation to architectural and cytological features of the DCIS. In general, myoepithelial cells around benign and malignant structures stained uniformly strongly for MT. Staining in DCIS was analyzed by architecture irrespective of cytology and by nuclear grade irrespective of architecture. The results showed that MT staining was significantly greater in comedo (ducts with necrosis) DCIS (ID = 97) compared with noncomedo (ducts without necrosis) DCIS (ID = 56) (P = .05 by Mann Whitney U statistic) and that low cytological grade (ID = 50) was associated with less MT staining than was high cytological grade (ID = 92) (P = .05 by Mann Whitney U statistic). These observations thus are consistent with the previously observed association between MT positivity and more aggressive behavior in invasive duct carcinoma of the breast.

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