Cytogenetic analysis shows that carcinosarcomas of the breast are of monoclonal origin

Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 1998 Jun;22(2):145-51.


Carcinosarcoma of the breast is a rare biphasic neoplasm composed of a carcinomatous component contiguous or admixed with a pleomorphic spindle cell component. The issues of the histogenesis and clonal composition of carcinosarcomas have long been debated. We present the first cytogenetic characterization of mammary carcinosarcomas by analysis of eight tumor samples from two patients with this disease. In the first case, the same karyotypically complex clone, as well as evidence of clonal evolution, was found in samples from three separate areas of the primary tumor. The analysis of one intramammary and one axillary lymph node metastasis from the same patient, both showing only the sarcomatous tumor component, also revealed the common complex stemline and one of the two sidelines found in the primary tumor. The carcinosarcoma of the second patient contained six complex but karyotypically related clones unevenly distributed among the three samples examined. From this case, cells belonging to the carcinomatous and sarcomatous tumor components were separated by differential sedimentation and culturing in specific growth media. Analysis of both fractions showed largely the same karyotype, although one of the subclones was restricted to the epithelial component. Our findings indicate that the epithelial and mesenchymal components of mammary carcinosarcomas are both part of the neoplastic parenchyma and that they have evolved from a single common stem cell, in agreement with the hypothesis that the tumors are of monoclonal origin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Carcinosarcoma / genetics*
  • Carcinosarcoma / pathology*
  • Clone Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Middle Aged