Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Breast

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2017 Nov;141(11):1577-1581. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2016-0364-RS.


Primary neuroendocrine tumors of the breast are a rare and underrecognized subtype of mammary carcinoma. Neuroendocrine tumors of the breast occur predominately in postmenopausal women. The tumors are subclassified into well-differentiated and poorly differentiated neuroendocrine tumors, and invasive breast carcinoma with neuroendocrine features. Well-differentiated tumors show architectural similarity to carcinoids of other sites but lack characteristic neuroendocrine nuclei. Poorly differentiated neuroendocrine tumors are morphologically identical to small cell carcinoma of the lung. Neuroendocrine differentiation, seen in up to 30% of invasive breast carcinomas, is most commonly associated with mucinous and solid papillary carcinomas. The diagnosis of neuroendocrine differentiation requires expression of the neuroendocrine markers synaptophysin or chromogranin. The main differential diagnosis is a metastatic neuroendocrine tumor from an extramammary site. Neuroendocrine tumors of the breast are treated similarly to other invasive breast carcinomas. Although no consensus has been reached on the prognosis, most studies suggest a poor outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / therapy
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromogranin A / metabolism
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Synaptophysin / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CHGA protein, human
  • Chromogranin A
  • SYP protein, human
  • Synaptophysin