The American Journal of Surgical Pathology - Most Popular Articles

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A Proposed Grading Scheme for Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma Based on Proliferative Activity (Ki-67 and Mitotic Count) and Coagulative Necrosis

imageWe investigated the prognostic value of a range of histologic parameters in medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) to design a grading system to predict overall survival. We assessed 76 patients with MTCs undergoing primary tumor resection for age, sex, tumor size, vascular space invasion, lymph node metastasis, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2) status, mitotic count, Ki-67 proliferative index, spindled morphology, sheet-like growth pattern, coagulative necrosis, incipient necrosis, nuclear grade, multinucleation, prominent nucleoli, fibrosis, and amyloid deposition. In addition to the clinical features of age and the diagnosis of MEN2, the only histologic features that significantly predicted reduced overall survival were Ki-67 proliferative index, mitotic count, and the presence of coagulative necrosis. Using a combination of these 3 variables, we propose a 3-tiered grading system based solely on proliferative activity (Ki-67 proliferative index and mitotic count) and necrosis. There were 62 (82%) low-grade MTCs (low proliferative activity, no necrosis), 9 (12%) intermediate grade (low proliferative activity and necrosis present, or intermediate proliferative activity and no necrosis), and 5 (7%) high grade (intermediate proliferative activity and necrosis present, or high proliferative activity with or without necrosis). The mean overall survival was 193, 146, and 45 months, respectively (P=0.0001) for the 3 grades. The grading system remained prognostic when controlled for other factors associated with survival including age and known MEN2 syndrome. We conclude that this proposed grading system, which uses only a combination of proliferative activity (Ki-67 index, mitotic count) and coagulative necrosis, is a strong predictor of overall survival in MTC.

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https://journals.lww.com/ajsp/Fulltext/2020/10000/A_Proposed_Grading_Scheme_for_Medullary_Thyroid.14.aspx

Expanding the Molecular Spectrum of Secretory Carcinoma of Salivary Glands With a Novel VIM-RET Fusion

imageBackground:
Secretory carcinoma (SC), originally described as mammary analogue SC, is a predominantly low-grade salivary gland neoplasm characterized by a recurrent t(12;15)(p13;q25) translocation, resulting in ETV6-NTRK3 gene fusion. Recently, alternative ETV6-RET, ETV6-MAML3, and ETV6-MET fusions have been found in a subset of SCs lacking the classic ETV6-NTRK3 fusion transcript, but still harboring ETV6 gene rearrangements.
Design:
Forty-nine cases of SC revealing typical histomorphology and immunoprofile were analyzed by next-generation sequencing using the FusionPlex Solid Tumor kit (ArcherDX). All 49 cases of SC were also tested for ETV6, RET, and NTRK3 break by fluorescence in situ hybridization and for the common ETV6-NTRK3 fusions using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.
Results:
Of the 49 cases studied, 37 (76%) occurred in the parotid gland, 7 (14%) in the submandibular gland, 2 (4%) in the minor salivary glands, and 1 (2%) each in the nasal mucosa, facial skin, and thyroid gland. SCs were diagnosed more frequently in males (27/49 cases; 55%). Patients’ age at diagnosis varied from 15 to 80 years, with a mean age of 49.9 years. By molecular analysis, 40 cases (82%) presented the classic ETV6-NTRK3 fusion, whereas 9 cases (18%) revealed an alternate fusion. Of the 9 cases negative for the ETV6-NTRK3 fusion, 8 cases presented with ETV6-RET fusion. In the 1 remaining case in the parotid gland, next-generation sequencing analysis identified a novel VIM-RET fusion transcript. In addition, the analysis indicated that 1 recurrent high-grade case in the submandibular gland was positive for both ETV6-NTRK3 and MYB-SMR3B fusion transcripts.
Conclusions:
A novel finding in our study was the discovery of a VIM-RET fusion in 1 patient with SC of the parotid gland who could possibly benefit from RET-targeted therapy. In addition, 1 recurrent high-grade case was shown to harbor 2 different fusions, namely, ETV6-NTRK3 and MYB-SMR3B. The expanded molecular spectrum provides a novel insight into SC oncogenesis and carries important implications for molecular diagnostics, as this is the first SC-associated translocation with a non-ETV6 5′ fusion partner. This finding further expands the definition of SC while carrying implications for selecting the appropriate targeted therapy.

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https://journals.lww.com/ajsp/Fulltext/2020/10000/Expanding_the_Molecular_Spectrum_of_Secretory.1.aspx

Urothelial Carcinomas With Trophoblastic Differentiation, Including Choriocarcinoma: Clinicopathologic Series of 16 Cases

imageTrophoblastic differentiation (including choriocarcinoma) arising in urothelial carcinoma has been described in numerous case reports, but never in a single series. We present a series of these tumors, describing the morphologic spectrum, applying traditional and novel immunohistochemical stains, and characterizing clinical follow-up. We identified 16 cases, arising predominantly in the bladder (N=14), but also the ureter (N=1) and prostatic urethra (N=1). Six of our cases (38%) contained invasive urothelial carcinoma with admixed syncytiotrophoblasts, 8 cases (50%) consisted of invasive urothelial carcinoma with choriocarcinoma, 1 case (6%) showed urothelial carcinoma in situ with associated choriocarcinoma, and 1 case (6%) consisted of pure choriocarcinoma. Other subtypes of variant morphology were seen in 5 of our cases (31%) and included squamous, glandular, lipoid, chordoid/myxoid, and sarcomatoid features. Given the limited specificity of human chorionic gonadotropin immunohistochemistry, we also studied the expression of a novel specific trophoblastic marker, hydroxyl-δ-5-steroid dehydrogenase, as well as Sal-like protein 4. Human chorionic gonadotropin expression was seen in nearly all cases (93%) but was often not limited to the trophoblastic component, staining the urothelial component also in 85% of the cases. Expression of hydroxyl-δ-5-steroid dehydrogenase was more sensitive and more specific, staining 100% of the cases and limited to trophoblasts in all but 1 case. Sal-like protein 4 expression was variable, staining trophoblast in only 50% of cases and staining the urothelial carcinoma component in 43% of those positive cases. Most of our tumors presented at a high stage and were associated with poor clinical outcomes, with at least muscle-invasive disease (pT2) in 10 of the 14 bladder tumors (71%), periureteric fat invasion in the ureter tumor (pT3), distant metastases in 7 of 16 cases (44%) and death of disease in 3 of the 15 patients with follow-up (20%). Our study describes a series of urothelial carcinomas with trophoblastic differentiation, demonstrating the morphologic spectrum of this entity, its frequent association with other subtypes of variant morphology, its characteristic immunoprofile, and its aggressive clinical behavior.

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https://journals.lww.com/ajsp/Fulltext/2020/10000/Urothelial_Carcinomas_With_Trophoblastic.3.aspx

Neuroendocrine Carcinomas of the Gallbladder: A Clinicopathologic and Immunohistochemical Analysis of 34 Resected Cases

imageNeuroendocrine carcinoma (NEC) is an aggressive malignant tumor that rarely arises from the gallbladder. Here, we investigated the clinicopathologic and immunohistochemical characteristics of 34 NECs of the gallbladder. The patients were predominantly women (68%) with a median age of 63 years (range, 37 to 82 y). NECs frequently occurred in the fundus (44%) as mass-forming lesions (66%). Histologically, 17 tumors were of small cell type, and another 17 were of large cell type. Twenty-three cases (68%) were associated with biliary intraepithelial neoplasia (38%) and intracholecystic papillary neoplasm (29%). The majority of tumors exhibited a diffuse growth pattern (74%), followed by organoid (24%) or scirrhous (2%) growth patterns. Histologic features related to neuroendocrine differentiation, such as nuclear molding (56%), perilobular pseudopalisading (18%), and rosette formation (15%), were identified. Immunohistochemically, cytokeratin 7 and 20 were expressed in 19 (56%) and 8 (24%) cases, respectively. Loss of Rb1 expression and concomitant overexpression of p16 were observed in 25 (74%) cases. No BRAFV600E mutations were identified in any of the 34 NECs. For survival analysis, the 1-, 3-, and 5-year overall survival rates were 64%, 35%, and 19%, respectively. In a multivariate analysis, the receipt of adjuvant chemoradiation therapy was identified as the only independent prognostic factor associated with the overall survival rate. The 1- and 3-year overall survival rates of patients with NECs were poorer for patients with poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma of the gallbladder (P<0.001). The complete resection and application of postoperative adjuvant therapy may influence a better clinical outcome in patients with NEC of the gallbladder.

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https://journals.lww.com/ajsp/Fulltext/2020/10000/Neuroendocrine_Carcinomas_of_the_Gallbladder__A.2.aspx

Recurrent Loss of SMARCA4 in Sinonasal Teratocarcinosarcoma

imageMolecular analysis has reshaped the landscape of high grade sinonasal tumors by defining novel entities and identifying recurrent mutations in established tumor types. However, sinonasal teratocarcinosarcoma (TCS), a rare and aggressive tumor with intermixed teratomatous, carcinomatous, and sarcomatous elements, remains poorly understood. The multiphenotypic differentiation of TCS has engendered persistent controversy about its histogenesis and leads to diagnostic overlap with several other malignancies. In this study, we evaluated the molecular underpinnings of TCS to clarify its pathogenesis and diagnosis. We performed SMARCA4 immunohistochemistry (IHC) on 22 TCS and 153 other sinonasal tumors. We identified loss of SMARCA4 expression in 18 TCS (82%), including 15 (68%) with complete loss and 3 (14%) with partial loss. Although we also identified partial SMARCA4 loss in 1 of 8 SMARCB1-deficient sinonasal carcinomas (13%), SMARCA4 was intact in all other sinonasal carcinomas and neuroendocrine tumors. We then selected 3 TCS with complete SMARCA4 loss by IHC for a targeted next-generation sequencing panel that included 1425 cancer-related genes. We confirmed biallelic somatic inactivation of SMARCA4 without other known oncogenic mutations in these 3 cases. Overall, these findings suggest that SMARCA4 inactivation may be the dominant genetic event in TCS, expanding understanding of this gene’s role in sinonasal tumorigenesis. They also raise the possibility that TCS is on a diagnostic spectrum with the newly described SMARCA4-deficient sinonasal carcinoma, blurring the lines between established and emerging sinonasal entities. In addition, SMARCA4 IHC may provide a useful adjunct for confirming a diagnosis of TCS in limited material.

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https://journals.lww.com/ajsp/Fulltext/2020/10000/Recurrent_Loss_of_SMARCA4_in_Sinonasal.4.aspx

Reproducibility of AJCC Criteria for Classifying Deeply Invasive Colon Cancers Is Suboptimal for Consistent Cancer Staging

imageThe eighth edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) Staging Manual attempts to address ambiguity in the pT category assignment for colon cancer from prior editions. Despite modifications, the distinction between the pT3 and pT4a categories continues to be a source of diagnostic confusion. In this study, we assessed interobserver agreement among pathologists from different institutions in the application of AJCC eighth edition criteria for categorizing deeply invasive colonic adenocarcinomas. We identified morphologic patterns that produce diagnostic confusion. We assessed 47 colon cancers that closely approached the serosal surface. Six pathologists with interest in gastrointestinal pathology and 4 focused in other subspecialties classified each case as pT3 or pT4a, based on examination of low-magnification and high-magnification images of the most deeply invasive area. Interobserver agreement was assessed using Fleiss’ κ. Cases displayed 3 morphologic patterns at the advancing tumor edge, namely, (1) continuous invasion through an inflammatory focus, (2) pushing border, and (3) infiltrative glands and cell clusters with serosal reaction. Gastrointestinal pathologists achieved slight (κ=0.21) or moderate (κ=0.46) and (κ=0.51) agreement in each category, whereas agreement among nongastrointestinal pathologist was fair (0.31) and (0.39), or moderate (0.57) for each category, respectively. In 10 (21%) cases, the distinction between pT3 and pT4a would have changed the overall clinical stage. We conclude that histologic criteria for serosal penetration is a persistent source of diagnostic ambiguity for gastrointestinal and general pathologists in the pT categorization of colon cancers. Clarification of these criteria will help ensure uniform reporting of pathologic and clinical stage.

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https://journals.lww.com/ajsp/Fulltext/2020/10000/Reproducibility_of_AJCC_Criteria_for_Classifying.9.aspx

PHOX2B Immunostaining: A Simple and Helpful Tool for the Recognition of Ganglionic Cells and Diagnosis of Hirschsprung Disease

imageHirschsprung disease (HD) is a congenital disorder of the enteric nervous system that occurs in ∼1 in 5000 live births. It is characterized by the absence of ganglionic cells (GCs) in the distal intestine. The diagnosis relies on the thorough analysis of a rectal suction biopsy (RSB), which must show a complete absence of GCs after careful examination of at least 100 serial sections. Such a negative characteristic explains the difficulty of this diagnosis. Moreover, GCs may be immature in very young or preterm born children, making them hard to recognize. Therefore, ancillary techniques have been developed as diagnostic help, such as acetylcholinesterase histochemistry and calretinin immunostaining. These techniques reveal only indirect clues, focusing mainly on the changes in nerve fibers, but not on GCs themselves. As PHOX2B has been shown to be a very specific transcription factor in GCs and in progenitor enteric nerve cells, we have assessed (i) PHOX2B immunostaining in immature enteric ganglia and (ii) the use of PHOX2B immunostaining for the recognition of GCs on RSBs for suspicion of HD. We have observed PHOX2B expression in all GCs, both mature and immature, and its complete absence in Hirschsprung cases. We suggest that the use of PHOX2B immunostaining is of great help (i) in the recognition of GCs on RSBs regardless of their differentiation and therefore (ii) in the diagnosis of HD.

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https://journals.lww.com/ajsp/Fulltext/2020/10000/PHOX2B_Immunostaining__A_Simple_and_Helpful_Tool.10.aspx

PD-1 and PD-L1 Immunohistochemistry as a Diagnostic Tool for Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma in Small-volume Biopsies

imageIt is becoming increasingly important to obtain detailed diagnostic information on small-volume tissue biopsies, such as core needle biopsies. This is particularly crucial in the workup and diagnosis of classic Hodgkin lymphoma (CHL) and other morphologically similar lymphomas such as T-cell/histiocyte-rich large B-cell lymphoma (THRLBL), where small-volume lymph node biopsies often represent the frontline tissue source, and the differential diagnosis includes a reactive process. Immunohistochemical markers could be helpful to differentiate CHL from reactive lymph node changes (RLN) in this setting. The use of programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) and its ligand (PD-L1) immunohistochemistry has historically focused on prognostic and therapeutic value when evaluating CHL. However, the present study seeks to determine the diagnostic utility of these markers in core needle biopsies of CHL (25), THRLBL (3), and RLN (31). The cases of CHL and THRLBL were previously diagnosed and confirmed with standard immunohistochemistry, allowing the utility of PD-1 and PD-L1 to be tested in this setting. Different PD-1 and PD-L1 expression patterns were observed between the reactive process of RLN and the malignant lymphomas (CHL and THRLBL). CHL cases overall showed the greatest expression of PD-L1 within the malignant Reed-Sternberg cell population, with 40% of CHL cases exhibiting >50% PD-L1 expression. This degree of PD-L1 expression was not seen in the lymphocytic cell population of any RLN (P<0.001). Conversely, CHL cases showed an overall lower expression of PD-1, as 96% of CHLs had <5% PD-1 expression in Reed-Sternberg cells compared with only 10% expression within the lymphocytic population of RLN (P<0.001). THRLBL cases followed a similar trend to CHL. These results demonstrate that upfront PD-1 and PD-L1 immunohistochemistry can aid in the diagnosis of CHL in small-volume tissue biopsies.

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https://journals.lww.com/ajsp/Fulltext/2020/10000/PD_1_and_PD_L1_Immunohistochemistry_as_a.6.aspx

Specific Biomarker Expression Patterns in the Diagnosis of Residual and Recurrent Endometrial Precancers After Progestin Treatment: A Longitudinal Study

imageBackground:
Conservative management with progestin is a treatment option for atypical hyperplasia (AH). However, pathologic diagnosis of residual/recurrent lesions is often problematic because of the profound morphologic changes induced by progestin and the lack of established diagnostic criteria for progestin-treated residual AH.
Methods:
We conducted a longitudinal study of 265 endometrial biopsies from 54 patients with a history of AH on progestin therapy. Patient outcomes were divided into 3 categories after morphologic review and immunohistochemical staining with phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) and paired box 2 (PAX2): (1) persistent or residual disease; (2) recurrent disease; (3) complete response. All specimens were classified into 3 categories based on morphology: (1) persistent/recurrent disease (nonresponse), (2) morphologically uncertain response, (3) optimally treated (complete response). The staining patterns of PTEN/PAX2 were tracked over time in individual patients and correlated with morphologic findings before and after progestin therapy.
Results:
Our data showed that aberrant expression patterns of PTEN and/or PAX2 were identified in 48 (88.9%) of the 54 primary biopsies and persisted in persistent/recurrent AH across serial endometrial biopsies (n=99, P<0.00001), while normal PTEN and PAX2 expressions were consistently observed in optimally treated cases (n=84, P<0.00001). More importantly, follow-up biopsies that showed a morphologically uncertain response but a PTEN/PAX2 expression pattern identical to the initial biopsy were significantly correlated with persistent or recurrent disease (n=18, P=0.000182), as evidenced by areas with morphologic features diagnostic of AH on subsequent biopsy.
Conclusions:
Biomarker PTEN/PAX2 signatures offer a valuable diagnostic aid to identify residual AH in progestin-treated endometrial samples for which the biomarker status from preprogestin treated AH is known. The findings of this study are promising for a possible future change of diagnostic practice.

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https://journals.lww.com/ajsp/Fulltext/2020/10000/Specific_Biomarker_Expression_Patterns_in_the.15.aspx