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Expression of c-kit in Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma of the Breast

Giovanna M. Crisi MD, PhD, Sharon A. Marconi, Grace Makari-Judson MD, Robert A. Goulart MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/61MVENEK5EJ7JKGF 733-739 First published online: 1 November 2005


Breast adenoid cystic carcinoma (BACC) is a biologically distinct tumor with morphologic mimickers, which might make accurate classification problematic. Because c-kit expression has been reported in adenoid cystic carcinoma of various anatomic sites, we evaluated BACC for c-kit by immunohistochemical analysis, comparing the findings to similarly stained mimickers. Tested cases included 6 BACCs, 15 low-grade infiltrating ductal carcinomas (LGIDCs) chosen as potential mimickers, and 15 head-neck adenoid cystic carcinomas (HNACCs).

All BACCs showed plasma membranous and cytoplasmic staining equal to or greater than that of adjacent benign epithelium. Five BACCs (83%) expressed c-kit in more than 50% of tumor cells. Only 2 of 15 LGIDCs expressed low-intensity, focal c-kit staining. Of the 15 HNACCs, 10 (67%) expressed c-kit. Hormone receptors were consistently negative in BACCs.

All BACCs expressed c-kit, whereas LGIDCs infrequently expressed low-intensity c-kit. Immunohistochemical evaluation for c-kit might aid in accurately classifying carcinomas with histologic features overlapping adenoid cystic carcinoma and LGIDC.

Key Words:
  • Adenoid cystic carcinoma
  • Breast
  • c-kit