Histological variants of prostatic carcinoma and their significance

Histopathology. 2012 Jan;60(1):59-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.04039.x.


The vast majority of prostatic cancers are acinar adenocarcinomas. Histological variants of prostatic carcinoma have been variably defined. One approach is to consider two groups of variants. The first group comprises histological variants of acinar adenocarcinoma and the second group non-acinar carcinoma variants or types. Variants of usual acinar adenocarcinoma defined in 2004 by the World Health Organization (WHO) include atrophic, pseudohyperplastic, foamy, colloid, signet ring, oncocytic and lymphoepithelioma-like carcinomas. The second group of non-acinar carcinoma histological variants or types of prostatic carcinoma accounts for about 5-10% of carcinomas that originate in the prostate. These include sarcomatoid carcinoma, ductal adenocarcinoma, urothelial carcinoma, squamous and adenosquamous carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and neuroendocrine tumours, specifically small-cell carcinoma. Recently characterized variants not present in the 2004 WHO classification, including microcystic adenocarcinoma, prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia-like adenocarcinoma, large-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma, and pleomorphic giant cell carcinoma, are also described. The aims of this review are to present the essential histomorphological diagnostic attributes of these variants, and to emphasize the clinical signficance of the variants, when different from usual acinar adenocarcinoma, including clinical presentation and outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Acinar Cell / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*