Phylloides Tumor With Numerous Thanatosomes (“Death Bodies”): A Report of Two Cases and a Study of Thanatosomes in Breast TumorsSymbol

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Thanatosomes, a form of degenerative intracellular hyaline globules, have been described in various neoplastic and nonneoplastic disease processes in several organs. These structures are indicative of apoptotic cell death. Herein, we report 2 cases of malignant phylloides tumor, both of which showed numerous thanatosomes—to the point of dominating the histological appearance and masking the stromal element. Our subsequently conducted study showed that thanatosomes were present in 14 of 86 (16.3%) high-grade malignant breast tumors. The structures were identified in 5/25 (20%) malignant phylloides tumors, 4/19 (21.1%) metaplastic spindle cell carcinomas, 3/21 (14.3%) invasive carcinomas s/p neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and 2/21 (9.5%) poorly differentiated invasive ductal carcinomas. When present, thanatosomes were typically a rare and focal finding in most types of cases. In malignant phylloides tumors, the structures were relatively more numerous when present. Our study shows that although thanatosomes can be present in several types of malignant breast tumors, they are more common in malignant phylloides tumor. Only rarely, as evident from our 2 index cases, do thanatosomes cause diagnostic difficulty.

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