Diagnostic cytological features of neuroendocrine differentiated carcinoma of the breast

Anna Sapino, Mauro Papotti, Francesca Pietribiasi, Gianni Bussolati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuroendocrine (NE) features characterize a minority of carcinomas of the breast corresponding to definite subtypes, which cover a wide spectrum of differentiation. Breast metastases from NE rumours of gastrointestinal origin are not rare, and to determine whether NE carcinomas in the breast could be differentiated from other rumours on fine needle aspiration (FNA) we analysed the cytological features of 13 primary NE breast carcinomas of different types (7 carcinoid-like, 5 mucinous and 1 solid spindle cell). Smears of carcinoid-like carcinomas showed specific features that made it possible to differentiate them from other primary tumours, but not from breast metastases of NE carcinomas. These features were: cell clusters with rigid borders, single cells with a plasmacytoid appearance and peripheral cytoplasmic granules evident on Giemsa staining and immunoreactive for chromogranin A. In mucinous NE carcinomas such granules were less apparent, and the cytological features could have been mistaken for those of fibroadenomas, as in the case of non-NE mucinous carcinomas. The solid spindle cell type showed noncohesive fusiform cells and moderate nuclear pleomorphism, a pattern similar to that of atypical carcinoids of the lung.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-222
Number of pages6
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • FNA cytology
  • Neuroendocrine breast carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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