Ductal carcinoma in situ: a proposal for a new classification

Semin Diagn Pathol. 1994 Aug;11(3):167-80.


Details of a proposed new classification for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) are presented. This is based, primarily, on cytonuclear differentiation and, secondarily, on architectural differentiation (cellular polarisation). Three categories are defined. First is poorly differentiated DCIS composed of cells with very pleomorphic, irregularly spaced nuclei, with coarse, clumped chromatin, prominent nucleoli, and frequent mitoses. Architectural differentiation is absent or minimal. The growth pattern is solid or pseudo-cribriform and -micropapillary (without cellular polarisation). Necrosis is usually present. Calcification, when present, is amorphous. Second, at the other end of the spectrum is well-differentiated DCIS, composed of cells with monomorphic, regularly spaced nuclei containing fine chromatin, inconspicuous nucleoli, and few mitoses. The cells show pronounced polarisation with orientation of their apical border towards intercellular spaces usually resulting in cribriform, micropapillary and clinging patterns, although a solid pattern of well-differentiated DCIS also occurs. Necrosis is uncommon. Calcifications, when present, are usually psammomatous. The third category, intermediately differentiated DCIS, is composed of cells showing some pleomorphism but not so marked as in the poorly differentiated group. There is, however, always evidence of polarization around intercellular spaces, although this is not so pronounced as in the well-differentiated group. These two criteria, cytonuclear differentiation and architectural differentiation, have been found to be more consistent throughout a DCIS lesion than previously employed criteria of architectural pattern or the presence or absence of necrosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / classification*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / classification
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / classification*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / pathology*
  • Humans