High-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, PIN-like carcinoma, ductal carcinoma, and intraductal carcinoma of the prostate

Mod Pathol. 2018 Jan;31(S1):S71-79. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2017.138.


Many prostate lesions have 'large gland' morphology with gland size similar to or larger than benign glands, complex glandular architecture including papillary, cribriform, and solid, and significant cytological atypia in glandular epithelium with nucleomegaly, prominent nucleoli, or anisonucleosis. The most common and clinically important lesions with 'large gland' morphology include high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN), PIN-like carcinoma, ductal adenocarcinoma, and intraductal carcinoma. These lesions have diverse clinical significance and management implications. HGPIN refers to proliferation of glandular epithelium that displays severe cytological atypia within the confines of prostatic ducts and acini. A HGPIN diagnosis in biopsies connotes ~25% risk of detection of cancer in repeat biopsies. It has been accepted as the main precursor lesion to invasive carcinoma. PIN-like carcinoma is a variant of acinar carcinoma that is morphologically reminiscent of HGPIN and is composed of large cancer glands lined with pseudostratified epithelium. Its clinical outcome is similar to that of usual acinar carcinomas and is graded as Gleason score 3+3=6. Ductal adenocarcinoma comprises large glands lined with tall columnar and pseudostratified epithelium. It is more aggressive than acinar carcinomas and is associated with higher stage disease and greater risk of PSA recurrence and mortality. Intraductal carcinoma is an intraglandular/ductal neoplastic proliferation of glandular epithelial cells that results in marked expansion of glandular architecture and nuclear atypia that often exceeds that in invasive carcinomas. In majority of cases, it is thought to represent retrograde extension of invasive carcinoma into pre-existing ducts and acini. Rarely it may represent a peculiar form of carcinoma with predilection for intraductal location. It is considered an adverse pathological feature and is seen almost always in high-grade and volume carcinoma and harbingers worse clinical outcomes. This article reviews 'new' information on the clinical and pathological features of HGPIN, PIN-like carcinoma, ductal carcinoma, and intraductal carcinoma, and focuses morphological features that aid the differential diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Large-Core Needle
  • Carcinoma, Acinar Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / analysis
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Transcriptional Regulator ERG / analysis


  • ERG protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Transcriptional Regulator ERG
  • TPTE protein, human
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase