Histological differences between invasive ductal carcinoma with a large central acellular zone and matrix-producing carcinoma of the breast

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Carcinoma with a large central acellular zone (central acellular carcinoma, CAC) and matrix-producing carcinoma (MPC) have been recently noted as basal-like-type breast cancers, but the two entities are often confused. To clarify their histological differences, the histopathological sections of 15 CAC and seven MPC were examined and the following features were compared by reviewing slides: (i) mode of invasion; (ii) alteration of cancer cell adhesion in the transitional area between cellular and acellular zones; (iii) staining of the stromal matrix; (iv) lymphocyte infiltration; and (v) tumor grade. Complete agreement was required between two observers for the assessments of these features. All CAC had relatively sharp margins but showed infiltrative growth accompanied by eosinophilic intercellular matrix. In CAC there was abrupt transition between peripheral cellular and central acellular zones without alteration of cancer cell adhesion. In contrast, all MPC showed expansive growth with a well circumscribed margin, accompanied by basophilic and myxoid intercellular matrix. In MPC there was gradual transition from cellular to acellular areas with gradual loss of cancer cell adhesion. Histological grade 3 and peripheral lymphocyte infiltration were common features. It is suggested that CAC and MPC are histologically distinct entities, and that the aforementioned features are helpful for differential diagnosis.

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