Histopathology of tumour associated sarcoid-like stromal reaction in breast cancer. An analysis of 5 cases with immunohistochemical investigations

Virchows Arch A Pathol Anat Histopathol. 1988;412(3):231-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00737147.


In 5 cases of invasive ductal and lobular carcinoma of the breast multiple epithelioid and giant cell containing granulomas were detected, localized mainly in circumferential regions, but also in the center of the carcinomas. These granulomas were interpreted as sarcoid-like stromal reactions, occurring as sarcoid-like lesions in uni- and bilateral primaries, in a recurrent tumour, and also in axillary lymph nodes. Histopathologically, these granulomas were not quite uniform, some of them corresponding to typical sarcoidosis, others showing marked proliferations of epithelioid or giant cells or containing fibrinoid exudate or necroses. The granulomas were surrounded by dense infiltrates of mononuclear cells. Tuberculosis and mycosis was excluded. There were no hints of generalized sarcoidosis. Pathogenetically, these are reactions in the tumour stroma of varying intensity, and are not caused by necroses of the tumour tissue nor by microbial infections. Such tumour-associated sarcoid-like stroma reactions are interpreted as a T-cell mediated immune response to an antigen expression of the carcinoma acting as the local trigger; in 2 cases they were connected with sarcoid-like lesions of the axillary lymph nodes. Their occurrence in bilateral carcinoma of the breast points to an immunological disposition for this special kind of host-versus-tumour response. The intensity of these changes in a recurrent tumour reflects an immunological hypersensitivity reaction. The pathogenetic and differential diagnostic aspects of epithelioid granulomas of the female breast in chronic granulomatous mastitis, panniculitis, foreign body reaction, rare infections, and in therapeutically induced sarcoidosis are described and discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Diseases / complications
  • Breast Diseases / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / complications
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / complications
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Sarcoidosis / complications
  • Sarcoidosis / pathology*