Neuroendocrine carcinomas of the breast

Int J Surg. 2008;6 Suppl 1:S113-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2008.12.007. Epub 2008 Dec 13.


Introduction: Neuroendocrine (NE) breast cancers encompass a heterogeneous group of tumours showing morphological features similar to those of NE neoplasms of the gut and lung and expressing one or more neuroendocrine markers (neuron specific enolase, chromogranins synaptophysin) in at least 50% of tumour cells. They are rare lesions representing about 2-3% of all breast cancers and affecting more frequently elderly patients.

Aim: Prospective observational study is to analyse the clinico-pathological aspects of NE carcinomas of the breast undergone surgical resection compared to breast carcinomas with a minor neuroendocrine component and to conventional invasive ductal or lobular cancers.

Material and method: Thirty-five consecutive breast carcinomas showing morphological features suggestive of an endocrine differentiation were selected among breast cancers undergone surgical treatment during the period of January 1979-December 2004.

Results: The 35 patients were divided into two categories: 13 neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) and 22 ductal carcinomas with a minor neuroendocrine component (DC-NE). The average follow-up was 60 months. The patients with CNE developed breast cancer in an advanced age compared to the patients with infiltrating ductal carcinoma NAS or infiltrating lobular carcinoma. We did not find recurrent disease in the NEC group, while it was observed in 2 patients (9%) with DC-NE, in 6 cases (17%) with infiltrating ductal carcinoma NAS and in 7 cases (20%) with infiltrating lobular carcinoma.

Discussion: The CNE compared with the infiltrating ductal and lobular carcinoma are statistically different in relation to the expression of the receptor of c-erb-B2, p53, progesterone, for the lymph node state at diagnosis and the risk of reappearance of breast tumour. Our study confirms the choice to consider the neuroendocrine carcinoma of the breast as a separate histological group and seems to suggest a less aggressiveness of this type of tumour.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • CD56 Antigen / biosynthesis
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / surgery
  • Chromogranin A / biosynthesis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mastectomy / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / biosynthesis
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptors, Estrogen / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Progesterone / biosynthesis
  • Synaptophysin / biosynthesis
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CD56 Antigen
  • Chromogranin A
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Synaptophysin
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase