Breast Cancer

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 58–63 | Cite as

The reversed apical pattern of MUC1 expression is characteristics of invasive micropapillary carcinoma of the breast

  • Yu-sang Li
  • Mayumi Kaneko
  • Danielle Giacometti Sakamoto
  • Yukio Takeshima
  • Kouki Inai
Original Article



Invasive micropapillary carcinoma (IMPC) of the breast is a special subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), which is known to have a high potential to metastasize to the axillary lymph node. However, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate IMPC from conventional IDC showing an IMPC-like pattern due to artifact (pseudo-IMPC). In the present study, we investigated the usefulness of immunohistochemical expression of MUC1 for distinguishing IMPC from pseudo-IMPC, and analyzed several clinicopathological parameters of IMPC and pseudo-IMPC cases.


Eighty cases showing IMPC or IMPC-like pattern were selected from our surgical files of 1240 cases of IDC. We examined the expression of MUC1, D2-40 and CD34 by immunohistochemistry.


Eighty cases were classified into 9 cases (0.7%) of pure-IMPC, 31 cases (2.5%) of mixed-IMPC, and 40 cases of pseudo-IMPC, according to the expression pattern of MUC1. In pure-IMPC cases, MUC1 expression was found at the reversed apical membrane of neoplastic cell clusters, while in pseudo-IMPC, MUC1 expression was present in the whole cytoplasmic membrane and/or cytoplasm. There were no significant differences among the three groups in patient age, tumor size and nuclear grade of neoplastic cells. However, lymphatic invasion and lymph node metastasis in the pure-IMPC or mixed-IMPC cases were higher than those in pseudo-IMPC cases with statistically significant values. Pure-IMPC has a higher recurrence rate and lower overall survival compared to pseudo-IMPC [P=0.0165(DFS)P=0.025(OS) ].


This study demonstrated that immunohistochemistry of MUC1 is useful for the diagnosis of IMPC. The pure-IMPC cases had higher incidences of lymphatic invasion and lymph node metastasis, and also showed a poorer prognosis.

Key words

Invasive micropapillary carcinoma Lymphatic invasion MUC1 D2-40 


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Breast Cancer Society 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu-sang Li
    • 1
  • Mayumi Kaneko
    • 1
  • Danielle Giacometti Sakamoto
    • 1
  • Yukio Takeshima
    • 1
  • Kouki Inai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyGraduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima UniversityHiroshimaJapan

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