Benign spindle cell tumors of the mammary stroma: diagnostic criteria, classification, and histogenesis

Pathol Res Pract. 2001;197(7):453-66. doi: 10.1078/0344-0338-00112.


Purely benign mesenchymal spindle cell neoplasms of the breast are currently labeled under various terms in the literature (benign spindle cell tumor, fibroma, spindle cell lipoma, myofibroblastoma, solitary fibrous tumor, myogenic stromal tumor). The lack of strict diagnostic criteria to clearly indicate such mesenchymal neoplasms is the main reason which generated the risk of terming the same lesion under different names or, conversely, of collecting different types under the same term. Although such neoplasms exhibit morphological and immunophenotypical heterogeneity, they actually represent variations of the same tumor entity, likely arising from the uncommitted vimentin+/CD34+ fibroblasts of the mammary stroma, capable of multidirectional mesenchymal differentiation. To cover the entire spectrum of such lesions, the term "benign spindle cell tumors (BSCTs) of the mammary stroma" is advocated. BSCTs can be subtyped into four main groups by light microscopy (LM) and immunocytochemistry (ICC): fibroblastic, myofibroblastic, fibrohistiocytic, and mixed forms. A simple and practical approach to a nosologically correct diagnosis and a list of differential diagnoses are presented. The awareness of the diversity of morphological and immunophenotypical features of BSCTs of the mammary stroma, including uncommon variants, is helpful to avoid confusion with other monomorphic bland-looking benign and malignant spindle cell tumors and tumor-like lesions of the breast.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / classification
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma / classification
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma / etiology
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping