Histopathological Features Predicting Neuroendocrine Morphology in Primary Breast Tumors: A Retrospective Analysis

Eur J Breast Health. 2024 Apr 1;20(2):110-116. doi: 10.4274/ejbh.galenos.2024.2023-12-10. eCollection 2024 Apr.


Objective: Neuroendocrine neoplasms of primary breast tumors are rare compared to locations, such as the respiratory system and gastrointestinal system, where they are frequently observed. The diagnostic criteria for primary neuroendocrine tumors of the breast have been changed since first description. Morphological and immunohistochemical features helpful in their diagnosis, which vary due to the heterogeneous nature of these tumors, are highlighted in this retrospective study. The purpose was to determine specific histopathological features that can identify neuroendocrine morphology in primary breast tumors.

Materials and methods: Cases diagnosed with invasive breast carcinoma from resection materials in a single center between 2011 and 2022 and in which neuroendocrine markers were investigated were included. Demographic information, initial histopathological diagnosis, presence of tumor in another organ, tumor location, size and surgical details of the cases were obtained from the hospital database and pathology reports. The slides were re-evaluated in terms of tumor growth pattern, cribriformity, tubule formation, nuclear features, prominence of nucleoli, palisading and basal location of nuclei, presence of grooves, cytoplasmic features and evidence of cytoplasmic border.

Results: The presence of basally located nuclei, absence of tubule formation, inconspicuous nucleoli, fine nuclear chromatin, granular cytoplasm and inconspicuous cytoplasmic borders were frequent findings in tumors with neuroendocrine features (p<0.05). These features may help differentiate primary breast tumors with neuroendocrine features from other breast carcinomas.

Conclusion: The histopathological features that are different from the specific features seen in classical neuroendocrine tumors, the absence of specific clinical and radiological findings, the inability to study neuroendocrine markers in every laboratory and the need to prove that the breast tumor is not a metastasis all create diagnostic difficulties for primary breast neuroendocrine neoplasms. We believe that the results of this study may help diagnose and identify more specific histomorphological features that help determine neuroendocrine morphology in primary breast tumors.

Keywords: Breast; neuroendocrine carcinoma; neuroendocrine neoplasia; neuroendocrine tumor; primary.