Mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis with dominant papillary architecture and focal complex morphology, but without other adverse findings, raises the dilemma whether it can still be considered as WDPM or whether it represents a predominantly papillary malignant mesothelioma. The neoplasm presented herein consisted of two small solitary tumors with mostly papillary architecture and bland cytology, but with no invasion into the surrounding tissue or infiltrative growth. The presence of some potentially adverse features, such as areas of complex and solid growth, a microfocus of coagulative necrosis and a mitotic figure, introduced the differential diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma with predominant papillary growth. The patient had an uneventful clinical course after a more radical surgery with no evidence of local disease recurrence or progression with distant metastases. It can be argued that a favorable outcome was achieved because of the radical treatment for a low-grade papillary malignant mesothelioma. Another option of resolving this diagnostic conundrum would be to consider this case a mesothelioma of "uncertain malignant potential", because it neither completely fits into the WDPM nor in the diffuse malignant mesothelioma category. This approach highlights the diagnostic uncertainty in these types of cases, particularly during the initial sign-out, when the invasive growth cannot be completely ruled out, particularly when dealing with a limited specimen or a limited excision.
WDPM of tunica vaginalis is considered "benign mesothelioma" in the World Health Organization fascicle on the tumors of the urinary system and male genital organs, primarily due to their indolent behavior . A critical review of the literature, including reports with detailed microscopic descriptions and illustrations, revealed only 9 well-documented cases of WDPM, since the first description by Barbera and Rubino in 1957 [3, 8–15]. WDPM were described in men between the ages of 18 to 70 years (median 56). All reported patients with WDPM had a good outcome with no evidence of disease recurrence or progression, although a relatively short follow-up of up to 3 years was provided for 7 out of 8 patients with available follow-up (median 21 months, mean 43 months; range, 12 to 120 months). Favorable outcome of WDPM of tunica vaginalis was achieved despite the variability of treatments, which included radical orchiectomy (5), limited local resection (4) or no surgery (1). The reported cases of WDPM arising in tunica vaginalis typically presented as solitary or, less often, limited number of superficial small nodules on the surface of a hydrocele sac, ranging from few mm to 3 cm in size, in contrast to the diffuse thickening or the multinodular neoplastic growth, typically seen in diffuse malignant mesotheliomas. On light microscopy, WDPM were typically composed of well-formed fibrovascular papillae, lined by a single row of flattened or cuboidal mesothelial cells, demonstrating bland cytology and low or absent mitotic activity (≤ 1 mitotic figure per10 h.p.f.). On immunohistochemistry, the cells uniformly marked as mesothelial and were reactive for cytokeratin, EMA, vimentin and calretinin.
The definition of WDPM has been somewhat controversial, but most experts currently restrict the term WDPM only to localized, solitary and exophytic tumors composed exclusively of delicate papillae lined by bland cuboidal cells [3, 7, 16]. Several of the previously reported WDPM of tunica vaginalis also included focal complex, tubulopapillary and solid morphology with confluent cords or genuine solid areas, but lacked overt signs of invasion or adverse morphology, similar to the case presented herein [2, 8–13]. Others have also documented cases arising in the peritoneum and tunica vaginalis that contained more complex architectural features, making it difficult to clearly distinguish between WDPM and malignant mesothelioma [2, 6, 16, 17]. Some of these cases were designated "papillary mesotheliomas with borderline features" or "localized mesotheliomas of low-grade malignancy", cautioning about their low malignant potential, despite the benign follow-up [2, 3, 11, 16, 17]. More recently, a term "mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis of uncertain malignant potential" was proposed for mesotheliomas with more complex morphology that do not fit the strict definition of benign WDPM or fulfill the criteria for diffuse malignant mesothelioma . Currently, there are no evidence-based treatment recommendations for the tumors designated "WDPM or mesotheliomas of uncertain malignant potential" of tunica vaginalis, and it is important that these rare tumors are well documented with long-term follow-up.
The differential diagnosis of WDPM or mesotheliomas of uncertain malignant potential of tunica vaginalis includes primarily other mesothelial proliferations of tunica vaginalis, such as malignant mesothelioma, benign nodular mesothelial hyperplasia, adenomatoid tumor, and also some uncommon testicular or paratesticular neoplasms. However, it is crucial that they are distinguished from the malignant mesotheliomas, which typically present with multiple nodules of larger size, irregular nodules on the hydrocele surface or with diffuse and irregular thickening within a hydrocele. Less often, malignant mesotheliomas form solitary tumors or tumors with an exophytic, partially papillary growth, mimicking WDPM. Malignant mesotheliomas are often found to have hemorrhagic hydrocele fluid intraoperatively. On microscopy, they can be either epithelial, sarcomatoid or biphasic and they typically show frank invasion into the adjacent tissue including the testis, epididymis or the spermatic cord. Although the nuclei may demonstrate atypia and the nuclear size and shape may vary, many cases exhibit bland cytology. The mitotic figures are readily found and psammoma bodies may also be frequently seen. Local recurrences occur in 60% of the patients during the first two years after the initial treatment and in more than 90% of the patients within 5 years after the treatment . In a comprehensive review of the literature of the malignant mesotheliomas, published in 1995, Plas et al found that the median patient survival was 23 months and for the patients with recurrent neoplasms only 14 months . The cases associated with benign behavior demonstrated papillary growth, no more than mild cell atypia and absent or exceptionally rare mitotic figures . The features of WDPM, mesothelioma of uncertain malignant potential and diffuse malignant mesothelioma arising in tunica vaginalis are summarized in Table 1.
The benign end of the spectrum of mesothelial proliferations is represented by nodular or reactive mesothelial hyperplasia which occurs most likely as a result of local irritation or injury, and is usually discovered incidentally in hernia sacs in children or in hydrocele sacs in adults. These are typically microscopic nodules or flat lesions on the surface of tunica vaginalis with bland appearance. They lack the distinctive papillary architecture seen in WDPM. Mesothelial reactions in hydroceles can sometimes exhibit diffuse and layered "zonal" distribution with entrapment of the mesothelial cells in a background of an organizing hematocele. These superficial extensions of mesothelial cells, glands and entrapped mesothelial cells are usually organized in parallel and linear arrays, which should not be confused with mesothelioma invasion [5, 19].
Other rare paratesticular and testicular neoplasms should also be considered in the broader differential diagnosis of the mesothelial proliferations of tunica vaginalis and were previously reviewed comprehensively by Amin MB and Algaba and the collaborators [19, 20]. These include the tumors of ovarian epithelial types (mostly serous papillary tumors of borderline malignancy), tumors of the collecting ducts and rete testis (mostly rete testis carcinoma) and papillary cystadenoma and adenocarcinoma of the epididymis. Lastly, when dealing with a paratesticular mass which may mimic a mesothelioma, possible metastatic deposits from common carcinomas, such as prostate, lung, colon, stomach, kidney and melanoma of the skin need to be ruled out. Metastatic tumors should particularly be considered if there is a clinical history of another primary or if the tumors are multifocal and show bilateral testicular involvement.