Immunohistochemistry as a diagnostic aid in cervical pathology

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As with biopsies from other sites in the female genital tract, immunohistochemistry is now being increasingly used in cervical pathology as an aid to diagnosis. In this review, I discuss applications of immunohistochemistry in diagnostic cervical pathology with a particular focus on recent developments. It is emphasised that immunohistochemistry is to be used as an adjunct to routine morphological examination and that no marker is totally specific or sensitive for a given lesion. Although much of this review focuses on glandular lesions, the value of markers, such as MIB1 and p16, in the assessment of pre-invasive cervical squamous lesions is discussed. In the broad field of cervical glandular lesions, topics covered include: the value of markers such as MIB1, p16 and bcl-2 in distinguishing adenocarcinoma in situ and glandular dysplasia from benign mimics; markers of mesonephric lesions, including CD10; markers of value in the diagnosis of minimal deviation adenocarcinoma, such as HIK1083; markers of value in distinguishing metastatic cervical adenocarcinoma in the ovary from primary ovarian endometrioid or mucinous adenocarcinoma. Rarely ectopic prostatic tissue occurs in the cervix, which can be confirmed by positive staining with prostatic markers. A panel of markers, comprising oestrogen receptor, vimentin, monoclonal carcinoembryonic antigen and p16, is of value in distinguishing between a cervical adenocarcinoma and an endometrial adenocarcinoma of endometrioid type. Markers of use in the diagnosis of cervical neuroendocrine neoplasms, including small cell and large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma, are discussed. It is stressed that small cell neuroendocrine carcinomas may be negative with most of the commonly used neuroendocrine markers and this does not preclude the diagnosis. p63, a useful marker of squamous neoplasms within the cervix, is of value in distinguishing small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (p63 negative) from small cell squamous carcinoma (p63 positive) and in confirming that a poorly differentiated carcinoma is squamous in type.

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