Benign epithelial inclusions in axillary lymph nodes: Report of 18 cases and review of the literature

Giovanni Fellegara, Maria Luisa Carcangiu, Juan Rosai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The occurrence of various types of heterotopic epithelial structures in lymph nodes is a well-documented phenomenon. Here, we report on the presence of such inclusions in axillary lymph nodes. A total of 18 cases were identified. All patients were women, their ages ranging from 32 to 79 years (median, 57 y). Thirteen patients had concomitant or antecedent breast abnormalities, and 12 of them had undergone nodal sampling for staging purposes. The other 5 patients had noted enlarging axillary masses, with no clinical evidence of previous or concomitant breast or genital tract pathology. We classified the nodal inclusions on morphologic grounds into 3 main categories: those composed exclusively of glandular structures (glandular-type inclusions; 10 cases, 56%); those made up only of squamous cysts (squamous-type inclusions; 2 cases, 11%); and those containing both glandular and squamous epithelia (mixed glandular-squamous-type inclusions; 6 cases, 33%). We speculate about the possible mechanism for the migration of the epithelial cells into the lymph nodes, discuss the modifications that they may later undergo as a result of local and systemic factors, and consider the differential diagnosis with other conditions, particularly with metastatic well-differentiated breast carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1133
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • axilla
  • breast cancer
  • epithelial inclusions
  • lymph node
  • metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Surgery

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Benign epithelial inclusions in axillary lymph nodes: Report of 18 cases and review of the literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this