Papillary Squamotransitional Cell Carcinoma of the Cervix: A Report of 32 Cases

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Papillary carcinomas of the uterine cervix with transitional or squamous differentiation are rare tumors that often resemble transitional cell carcinomas of the urinary tract. We reviewed 32 such cases of papillary cervical carcinoma and divided them into three groups: 1) predominantly (>90%) squamous (nine cases), 2) mixed squamous and transitional (16 cases), and 3) predominantly transitional (seven cases). Overall, the patients ranged in age from 22 to 93 years (mean 50), and the most common clinical presentation was abnormal bleeding (15 patients) and an abnormal Papanicolaou smear (nine patients). The tumors ranged in size from 0.7 to 6.0 cm (mean 3.0). All cases demonstrated a papillary architecture with fibrovascular cores lined by a multilayered, atypical epithelium resembling a high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion of the cervix. Underlying superficial to deep stromal invasion was seen in 18 of 20 cases (90%); in the remaining 12 cases, the specimen was too superficial to assess invasion. Eighteen (86%) of the 21 cases examined immunohistochemically demonstrated immunoreactivity for cytokeratin 7, whereas only two of the 21 (9.5%) showed positivity for cytokeratin 20. Of the 12 women for whom follow-up information was available, three were treated by simple hysterectomy, two underwent radical hysterectomy, one was treated with radiation alone, and one with combination chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Three patients died of disease (two in the squamous group and one transitional) within an average of 13 months after diagnosis. Local recurrence developed in two women, and one of these, a vaginal recurrence, occurred 12 years after the original diagnosis. Based on the above findings, we believe that these tumors are a clinicopathologically distinct, homogeneous group that display a morphologic spectrum. Nevertheless, because some tumors may show a purely squamous or purely transitional appearance, we propose retaining the above three separate designations for these tumors with the understanding that there is often a substantial degree of subjectivity in deciding whether a tumor is squamous or transitional. The most distinctive, objective, and easily recognizable feature of these tumors is their surface papillary architecture rather than their superficial resemblance to transitional cell carcinomas of the urinary tract, and we emphasize the need to distinguish these potentially aggressive malignant tumors from the far more common and benign papillary lesions of the cervix.

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