Ovarian clear cell carcinoma with papillary features: A potential mimic of serous tumor of low malignant potential AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SURGICAL PATHOLOGY Sangoi, A. R., Soslow, R. A., Teng, N. N., Longacre, T. A. 2008; 32 (2): 269-274


The differential diagnostic problems usually associated with clear cell carcinoma (CCC) of the ovary have been well characterized and include primitive germ cell tumor, sex cord stromal tumor, and metastasis. Distinction from other types of surface epithelial carcinoma may also pose a diagnostic challenge, but the potential for misdiagnosis of serous tumor of low malignant potential (S-LMP) is not well recognized. We report 13 cases of ovarian CCC with prominent papillary architecture that were initially misdiagnosed as S-LMP or low-grade serous carcinoma either on frozen section or at final diagnosis. The ages of the patients ranged from 39 to 65 years (mean, 52.2 y). All patients presented with a pelvic mass; 1 was undergoing evaluation for infertility. Macroscopically, most were described as unilateral, multilocular cysts with internal papillary structures. On microscopic examination, each tumor had a papillary architecture that accounted for 30% to 95% of the tumor; in 6 cases, the cores of the papillae were hyalinized. The neoplastic cells covering the papillae had clear to granular and eosinophilic cytoplasm. Hobnail cells were focal and often subtle. Most had a low mitotic index (9/13) and/or deceptively bland cytology (8/13); only careful attention to the cytologic features and/or mitotic index allowed correct identification of the tumor type in 5 cases. Six were associated with pelvic/ovarian endometriosis. Ten were Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stage I (8 IA, 2 IC), 2 were stage II (1 IIB, 1 IIC), and 1 stage IIIC. CCC with prominent papillary architecture is uncommon, but may pose a challenging differential diagnosis with S-LMP, resulting in inadequate staging and delayed treatment. Features most helpful in distinguishing papillary CCC are unilaterality, nonhierarchical branching, monomorphous cell population, and the presence of more typical CCC patterns elsewhere in the tumor. The presence of endometriosis, although not specific, should also prompt consideration for papillary CCC. Increased numbers of mitotic figures may not be present and high-grade cytologic atypia may be focal, requiring careful examination of multiple tumor sections for detection. As CCC and S-LMP exhibit significantly different immunoreactivity for Wilms' Tumor 1 and estrogen receptor, these markers may also be useful adjunctive tests in problematic cases.

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