Breast carcinoma diverging to aberrant melanocytic differentiation: a case report with histopathologic and loss of heterozygosity analyses

Am J Surg Pathol. 1999 Oct;23(10):1280-7. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199910000-00015.


A case of primary breast cancer showing differentiation to malignant melanoma is reported. To obtain insight into the clonal relationship between the two components of the tumor, polymerase chain reaction-based microsatellite analysis to detect loss of heterozygosity on chromosome arms 1p, 1q, 3q, 4q, 6q, 8p, 9p, 10q, 11q, 13q, 16q, 17p, 17q, and 18q with microdissected tissues of both components was performed in addition to histologic, histochemical, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural techniques. The tumor consisted of a combination of carcinoma and melanoma with morphologic transition. Metastases in the lymph nodes and thoracic spinal bone marrow showed dual tissue structure. One of the metastatic lung tumors showed melanomatous tissue structure. The abundant pigment in the cells was positive for Fontana-Masson staining and bleached with potassium permanganate. The carcinoma component was positive for epithelial membrane antigen and CA19-9, but the melanoma component was negative. Conversely, the melanoma component was positive for HMB45 and vimentin, but the carcinoma component was negative. Electron microscopic analysis showed premelanosomes and melanosomes in the melanoma component. Microsatellite analysis showed the same genetic alterations with loss of heterozygosity on chromosome arms 1p, 3q, 4q, 6q, 9p, 10q, 11q, 13q, 16q, 17p, and 17q in in situ, invasive, and metastatic foci. We concluded that the carcinoma and melanoma components had arisen from the same clone and that this breast carcinoma might have diverged to aberrant malignant melanoma through multiple genetic alterations in the early period of ductal carcinoma in situ.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / secondary*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromosomes, Human / genetics
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Loss of Heterozygosity*
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Melanocytes / chemistry
  • Melanocytes / pathology*
  • Melanocytes / ultrastructure
  • Melanoma / chemistry
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Spinal Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Spinal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Spinal Neoplasms / secondary*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm