Diagnostic Criteria in Intraepithelial Pagetoid Neoplasms: A Histopathologic Study and Evaluation of Select Features in Paget Disease, Bowen Disease, and Melanoma In Situ

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Paget disease, Bowen disease, and malignant melanoma in situ are intraepidermal neoplasms, characterized by the presence of pagetoid scatter of atypical cells in the epidermis. This study reviewed the frequency of select histologic criteria to validate their usefulness in the histologic distinction between these entities.


One hundred forty-four specimens with the diagnosis of Bowen disease, 144 specimens with Paget disease (mammary and extramammary), and 144 specimens with malignant melanoma in situ were examined microscopically to define frequencies of select histologic criteria present in each disease.


Comparison between mammary Paget and extramammary Paget disease showed no significant differences in the features studied. Crushing of basal keratinocytes, presence of atypical cells in the corneum, and presence of large cells with amphophilic cytoplasm were significantly noted in Paget disease. Transition between the atypical clear cells and surrounding keratinocytes was absent in all cases of melanoma in situ and in 87 (60.4%) cases of Paget disease, but it was significantly associated with Bowen disease (98.6%). Dyskeratotic cells were significantly associated with Bowen disease cases.


Our study demonstrated a practical histologic approach to differentiate between intraepidermal pagetoid neoplasms. Careful histologic study of the proposed criteria may reduce reliance on immunohistochemical stains.

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