Composite carcinoma-carcinoid tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. A morphologic, histochemical, and immunocytochemical study

R. Scott Klappenbach, R. J. Kurman, C. F. Sinclair, L. P. James

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A morphologic, histochemical, and immunocytochemical study of 20 cases of pure gastrointestinal carcinoids, adenocarcinomas, and mixed neoplasms composed of both elements, so-called composite carcinoma-carcinoid tumors (CCC), was undertaken in order to correlate the morphologic patterns with the immunocytochemical localization of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), serotonin, and a battery of polypeptide hormones (calcitonin, glucagon, insulin, gastrin, somatostatin, and adrenocorticotropin [ACTH]). Paraffin sections from five pure carcinoids, seven pure adenocarcinomas, and eight CCC from the stomach, small bowel, appendix, and colon were studied with mucicarmine, silver impregnation stains, and a peroxidase-anti-peroxidase technic. Of the eight CCC, all were mucin positive, four were argyrophylic, and three were argentaffin positive. CEA was present in all eight, serotonin in seven, and calcitonin in one. No other neurohormonal peptides were demonstrated. The distribution of serotonin and CEA generally corresponded to the morphologic pattern, but discordance was observed in two cases, i.e., serotonin was not always localized to areas of carcinoid and CEA not always confined to areas of carcinoma. All five pure carcinoids demonstrated intracytoplasmic localization of serotonin, whereas none contained intracytoplasmic CEA. In two cases, CEA was present within acinar lumens only. The seven colonic adenocarcinomas were argyrophil and argentaffin negative. All contained CEA within the cytoplasm and in gland lumens. None contained serotonin. None of the neurohormonal peptides was localized in either pure adenocarcinomas or carcinoids. This study reveals that among gastrointestinal neoplasms displaying morphologic patterns of adenocarcinoma and carcinoid, immunocytochemical localization of CEA and serotonin confirms their bidirectional differentiation and justifies the designation 'composite carcinoma-carcinoid'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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