What are the histologic findings of papillary carcinoma breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Papillary carcinoma of the breast (see the image below) encompasses a spectrum of histologic subtypes. There are 2 common types: cystic (noninvasive form) and micropapillary ductal carcinoma (invasive form). This form of breast cancer is usually seen in women older than 60 years and accounts for approximately 1-2% of all breast cancers. Papillary carcinomas are centrally located in the breast and can present as bloody nipple discharge. They are strongly ER- and PR-positive.

Breast cancer. Papillary carcinoma. Solid papillar Breast cancer. Papillary carcinoma. Solid papillary growth pattern with early cribriform and well-developed thin papillary fronds.

Cystic papillary carcinoma has a low mitotic activity, which results in a more indolent course and a good prognosis. However, invasive micropapillary ductal carcinoma has a more aggressive phenotype similar to that of infiltrating ductal carcinoma, even though about 70% of cases are ER-positive. A retrospective review of 1400 cases of invasive carcinoma identified 83 cases (6%) with at least 1 component of invasive micropapillary ductal carcinoma. Additionally, lymph node metastasis is seen frequently in this subtype (70-90% of cases). [106]

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