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Apocrine lesions of the breast: part 2 of a two-part review. Invasive apocrine carcinoma, the molecular apocrine signature and utility of immunohistochemistry in the diagnosis of apocrine lesions of the breast
  1. Clare D'Arcy,
  2. Cecily M Quinn
  1. Histopathology, Breast Check, Irish National Breast Screening Programme and St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Clare D'Arcy, Consultant Histopathologist, Breast Check, Irish National Breast Screening Programme, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin D4, Ireland; clare.darcy{at}


Pure apocrine carcinoma of the breast is rare and has been defined by using a combination of morphologic (apocrine morphology in >90% of tumour cells) and immunohistochemical criteria (oestrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) negative and androgen receptor (AR) positive). Recent advances in the molecular classification of breast tumours have uncovered a subset of breast tumours associated with high expression of androgen receptor mRNA including the so-called ‘luminal androgen receptor (LAR) tumours’ and ‘molecular apocrine tumours’ (MATs). Recognition of these tumour subsets has opened potential avenues for therapies exploiting the AR pathway in triple negative breast carcinoma (TNBC). In this second part of our two-part review, we focus on the definition of pure apocrine carcinoma, recent advances in understanding the molecular apocrine signature in breast carcinoma, its relationship to pure apocrine carcinoma defined at the level of light microscopy and immunohistochemistry (IHC) and the therapeutic implications of androgen expression in TNBC. We complete the article with a summary of the utility of IHC in stratifying apocrine lesions of the breast.

  • breast pathology
  • apocrine carcinoma
  • androgen receptor

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  • Handling editor Runjan Chetty.

  • Contributors The article was written by CD’A, and both authors, CD’A and CQ, made significant contributions to the literature search and editing.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No unpublished data from this article has been shared with other individuals.

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