Primary Cutaneous ALCL With Phosphorylated/Activated Cytoplasmic ALK and Novel Phenotype: EMA/MUC1+, Cutaneous Lymphocyte Antigen Negative

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Primary cutaneous anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) ordinarily is distinguished from systemic ALCL by clinical presentation, absence of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) expression, and immunophenotype (CLA+, EMA/MUC1−). We present an exceptional case of an elderly man with primary cutaneous ALCL and no systemic disease for a 13-year period. Recurrent skin tumors in this patient were characterized by anaplastic, often multinucleated, cells infiltrating the lymphatics and associated with pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia. Cutaneous lymphocyte antigen was absent and EMA/MUC1, typical of systemic ALCL, was strongly expressed by the tumor cells. Remarkably, the tumor cells expressed a cytoplasmic-only variant of ALK protein, as reported in 3 previous cases of primary cutaneous ALCL. Fluorescence in situ hybridization revealed lack of rearrangements of the chromosome 2 ALK gene locus usually involved by translocation t(2;5) or other chromosomal rearrangements that generate nucleophosmin-ALK or the variant ALK fusions that occur in systemic ALCL. Nonetheless, the cytoplasmic ALK protein in the patient's tumor cells was shown to be phosphorylated/activated, suggesting a novel mechanism of ALK activation. Primary cutaneous ALCL of this novel subtype should be distinguished from systemic ALCL to ensure proper clinical management.

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