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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

A comprehensive morphological study for basal-like breast carcinomas with comparison to nonbasal-like carcinomas

Asli Cakir*, Ipek Isik Gonul and Omer Uluoglu

Author Affiliations

Department of Pathology, Gazi University School of Medicine, Besevler 06500, Ankara, Turkey

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Diagnostic Pathology 2012, 7:145  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-7-145

Published: 20 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Breast carcinomas can be classified into five subtypes based on gene expression profiling or immunohistochemical characteristics. Among these subtypes, basal-like breast carcinomas (BLBCs) are one of the most studied group, due to their poor prognosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalance, morphological and immunohistochemical features of BLBCs, in Turkish population.

Methods

Five hundred invasive breast carcinomas were reviewed for several morphological features and immunostained for oestrogen and progesterone receptors, c-ERB-B2, cytokeratin5/6, cytokeratin14, vimentin and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Basal-like breast carcinoma was defined as a triple negative tumor with cytokeratin5/6 and/or EGFR positive.

Results

The prevalance of BLBC was 9.6%. All medullary carcinomas and 55.6% of metaplastic carcinomas showed basal-like immunophenotype. Patients with BLBC were younger (p=0.04) and had higher-grade tumors (p<0.0001). Morphologic features associated with BLBC included increased mitosis, nuclear pleomorphism, presence of geographic and/or central necrosis, pushing margin of invasion and stromal lymphocytic response (p<0.0001). Presence of prominent nucleoli and vesicular nuclear chromatin were the cytological features correlated with basal-like phenotype (p<0.0001). On multivariate analyses, BLBCs were associated with high mitotic number (p<0.0001), the presence of vesicular chromatin (p=0.004), high tubular grade (p=0.011), lymphocytic response (p=0.031) and the absence of carcinoma insitu (p=0.039). Vimentin was positive in 53.2% of BLBCs, while cytokeratin14 was less frequently expressed (27.7%).

Conclusions

BLBCs have some distinctive, but not pathognomonical, morphological features. Paying attention to these features and adding cytokeratin14 and vimentin to the immunohistochemical panel can help the definitive diagnosis of BLBCs.

Virtual slide

Http://www.diagnosticpathology.diagnomx.eu/vs/5962175467857400 webcite

Keywords:
Basal-like breast carcinoma; Breast; Breast carcinoma; Morphology