Intraductal carcinoma of the prostate: a critical re-appraisal

Virchows Arch. 2019 May;474(5):525-534. doi: 10.1007/s00428-019-02544-6. Epub 2019 Mar 1.


Intraductal carcinoma of the prostate gland (IDCP), which is now categorised as a distinct entity by WHO 2016, includes two biologically distinct diseases. IDCP associated with invasive carcinoma (IDCP-inv) generally represents a growth pattern of invasive prostatic adenocarcinoma while the rarely encountered pure IDCP is a precursor of prostate cancer. This review highlights issues that require further discussion and clarification. The diagnostic criterion "nuclear size at least 6 times normal" is ambiguous as "size" could refer to either nuclear area or diameter. If area, then this criterion could be re-defined as nuclear diameter at least three times normal as it is difficult to visually compare area of nuclei. It is also unclear whether IDCP could also include tumours with ductal morphology. There is no consensus whether pure IDCP in needle biopsies should be managed with re-biopsy or radical therapy. A pragmatic approach would be to recommend radical therapy only for extensive pure IDCP that is morphologically unequivocal for high-grade prostate cancer. Active surveillance is not appropriate when low-grade invasive cancer is associated with IDCP, as such patients usually have unsampled high-grade prostatic adenocarcinoma. It is generally recommended that IDCP component of IDCP-inv should be included in tumour extent but not grade. However, there are good arguments in favour of grading IDCP associated with invasive cancer. All historical as well as contemporary Gleason outcome data are based on morphology and would have included an associated IDCP component in the tumour grade. WHO 2016 recommends that IDCP should not be graded, but it is unclear whether this applies to both pure IDCP and IDCP-inv.

Keywords: Critical review; Ductal adenocarcinoma; Intraductal carcinoma of prostate gland; Prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Grading / methods
  • Prostate / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*