Neuroendocrine carcinomas of the pancreas with 'Rhabdoid' features

Am J Surg Pathol. 2003 May;27(5):642-9. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200305000-00007.


Neuroendocrine carcinomas of the pancreas are rare neoplasms whose morphologic features generally mirror those seen in neuroendocrine tumors in other organs. Rarely, however, they may display unusual morphologic appearances that can introduce difficulties for diagnosis. We report four cases of primary neuroendocrine carcinomas of the pancreas (islet cell tumors) that were characterized by prominent "rhabdoid" features of the tumor cells. The lesions occurred in two men and two women 37-79 years of age who presented with symptoms of biliary obstruction and epigastric pain; one patient had recurrent gastric ulcers and an elevated gastrin level. The tumors were located in the head and tail of the pancreas and measured 2.5-4.5 cm in greatest diameter. Histologic examination revealed sheets of monotonous tumor cells with uniform round nuclei showing dispersed chromatin and containing abundant densely eosinophilic cytoplasmic inclusions that displaced the nuclei toward the periphery. In all cases, the rhabdoid elements appeared to merge with areas showing a more conventional neuroendocrine morphology. Immunohistochemical studies in all cases showed strong cytoplasmic positivity of the rhabdoid tumor cells for chromogranin, synaptophysin, and cytokeratin. Recognition of this unusual morphologic appearance is of importance to avoid mistaking these lesions for other types of malignant neoplasm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anaplasia / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Islet Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Islet Cell / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Islet Cell / surgery
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / secondary
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Rhabdoid Tumor / chemistry
  • Rhabdoid Tumor / secondary*
  • Rhabdoid Tumor / surgery