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Apocrine lesions of the breast: part 1 of a two-part review: benign, atypical and in situ apocrine proliferations of the breast


Apocrine morphology is a common phenomenon encountered in everyday breast pathology practice, and is defined as cuboidal or columnar cells exhibiting abundant eosinophilic granular cytoplasm, prominent apical granules, a low nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio, and round nuclei with pale chromatin and prominent nucleoli. Apocrine morphology is recognised in benign, atypical and malignant lesions of the breast. The morphology of apocrine atypia and non-high-grade apocrine ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is less well defined due to the relative rarity of these lesions. In part 1 of this two-part review, we focus on the morphological characteristics of benign, atypical and in situ apocrine lesions of the breast, summarise the available data to date regarding distinction of atypical apocrine proliferations from non-high-grade apocrine DCIS and the biological significance of apocrine atypia, and provide practical guidance on handling these difficult lesions. Part 2 of this review will focus on the concept of pure apocrine carcinoma with emphasis on its definition and molecular data, including the current understanding of the molecular apocrine signature in breast carcinoma. We complete the review with a synopsis on the utility of immunohistochemistry in the diagnosis of apocrine lesions of the breast.

  • breast pathology
  • apocrine atypia
  • Apocrine Hyperplasia

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