Lesions of anogenital mammary-like glands: an update

Adv Anat Pathol. 2011 Jan;18(1):1-28. doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e318202eba5.


Long considered to be ectopic breast tissue representing the caudal remnants of the milk ridges, anogenital mammary-like glands are nowadays thought to represent a normal constituent of the anogenital area. Lesions involving these glands, benign or malignant, epithelial or stromal manifest a striking similarity to their mammary counterparts. This review addresses the recent literature on lesions of anogenital mammary-like glands and our personal experience with various lesions related to these structures. Discussed are the normal anatomy and histology of these glands as well as the clinical presentation, histopathological and immunohistochemical features, molecular biological aspects, and differential diagnosis of various lesions involving anogenital mammary-like glands, including lactating adenoma, hidradenoma papilliferum, hidradenocarcinoma papilliferum, fibroadenomas, phyllodes tumor, pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia, extramammary Paget disease, and other carcinomas. In addition, "nonspecific" epithelial or stromal changes some of which can be likened to similar changes occurring in a range of benign breast disease, including sclerosing adenosis, columnar cell lesions, ductal lesions and various metaplastic changes affecting epithelium and myoepithelium are discussed. Although lesions of anogenital mammary-like glands are often discussed in many dermatopathology textbooks in the context of cutaneous adnexal neoplasms we advocate that the best approach to the diagnosis of these lesions is to relate them to analogous well recognized lesions occurring in the breast, that is, through the eyes of a breast pathologist. This will enable their recognition, precise classification and should introduce greater uniformity in how they are reported in the literature so that more meaningful clinicopathological comparisons and correlations may be made.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrospiroma / pathology
  • Adnexa Uteri / pathology*
  • Adnexal Diseases / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / pathology
  • Female
  • Fibroadenoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Mammary Glands, Human / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Adnexal and Skin Appendage / pathology
  • Paget Disease, Extramammary / pathology
  • Phyllodes Tumor / pathology
  • Vulva / cytology
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology