Diagnosis and reporting of limited adenocarcinoma of the prostate on needle biopsy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The diagnosis of limited adenocarcinoma of the prostate is one of the more difficult challenges in surgical pathology. This paper highlights the methodological approach to diagnosing limited cancer, based on a constellation of features more commonly present in adenocarcinoma than benign glands. In assessing small foci of atypical glands on needle biopsy, one looks for differences between the benign glands and the atypical glands in terms of nuclear features, cytoplasmic features, and intraluminal contents. Only a few features, such as glomerulations, mucinous fibroplasia (collagenous micronodules), and perineural invasion are diagnostic in and of themselves for prostate cancer, Immunohistochemistry may be a useful adjunct in the diagnosis of limited adenocarcinoma of the prostate, although as with any immunohistochemical studies, there are problems with both sensitivity and specificity. Basal cell markers, such as high molecular weight cytokeratin and more recently, p63, highlight basal cells found in benign glands, yet are absent in adenocarcinoma of the prostate. However, not all benign glands label uniformly with basal cell markers. Certain mimickers of adenocarcinoma of the prostate are even less frequently labeled uniformly with these stains. Consequently, negative staining in a small focus of atypical glands for basal cell markers is not diagnostic of adenocarcinoma of the prostate. More recently, a marker has been identified that relatively selectively labels adenocarcinoma of the prostate. AMACR will label the cytoplasm of approximately 80% of limited adenocarcinoma of the prostate cases on needle biopsy. In positive cases, not all of the glands will be positive and those that are positive are often not intensely positive. Certain variants of adenocarcinoma of the prostate that are a little more difficult to recognize, such as foamy glands adenocarcinoma, pseudohyperplastic adenocarcinoma, and atrophic adenocarcinoma, are labeled with AMACR in only approximately 60-70% of cases. In addition to problems with sensitivity, AMACR is not entirely specific for adenocarcinoma, and will label almost all cases of high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, some foci of adenosis, and even some entirely benign glands. Finally, this paper will briefly cover the significance of atypical or suspicious prostate needle biopsies, and how to report the key diagnostic and prognostic information on needle biopsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-315
Number of pages9
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • High molecular weight cytokeratin
  • Needle biopsy
  • Pathology
  • Prostate cancer
  • Racemase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Diagnosis and reporting of limited adenocarcinoma of the prostate on needle biopsy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this