Pleomorphic lobular carcinoma of the breast: role of comprehensive molecular pathology in characterization of an entity

J Pathol. 2005 Sep;207(1):1-13. doi: 10.1002/path.1806.


Immunohistochemical analysis of E-cadherin has changed the way lobular neoplasia is perceived. It has helped to classify difficult cases of carcinoma in situ with indeterminate features and led to the identification of new variants of lobular carcinoma. Pleomorphic lobular carcinoma (PLC) and pleomorphic lobular carcinoma in situ (PLCIS), recently described variants of invasive and in situ classic lobular carcinoma, are reported to be associated with more aggressive clinical behaviour. Although PLC/PLCIS show morphological features of classic lobular neoplasia and lack E-cadherin expression, it is still unclear whether these lesions evolve through the same genetic pathway as lobular carcinomas or are high-grade ductal neoplasms that have lost E-cadherin. Here we have analysed a case of extensive PLCIS and invasive PLC associated with areas of E-cadherin-negative carcinoma in situ with indeterminate features, using immunohistochemistry, chromogenic in situ hybridization, high-resolution comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and array-based CGH. We observed that all lesions lacked E-cadherin and beta-catenin and showed gain of 1q and loss of 16q, features that are typical of lobular carcinomas but are not seen in high-grade ductal lesions. In addition, amplifications of c-myc and HER2 were detected in the pleomorphic components, which may account for the high-grade features in this case and the reported aggressive clinical behaviour of these lesions. Taken together, these data suggest that at least some PLCs may evolve from the same precursor or through the same genetic pathway as classic lobular carcinomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Carcinoma in Situ / genetics*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / metabolism
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / pathology
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods
  • Microdissection / methods
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • beta Catenin


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • beta Catenin