Epithelioid trophoblastic tumor: A neoplasm distinct from choriocarcinoma and placental site trophoblastic tumor simulating carcinoma

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This report describes the clinicopathologic and immunohistochemical features of 14 cases of epithelioid trophoblastic tumor (ETT), a distinctive but rare gestational trophoblastic tumor. The patients with this neoplasm were in the reproductive age group and presented with abnormal vaginal bleeding. Although diagnosis was usually associated with a gestational event, the latter was sometimes remote. Two of the 14 patients presented with extrauterine ETT without evidence of prior gestational trophoblastic disease in the uterus. Serum human chorionic gonadotropin levels were elevated in eight of nine patients in whom this information was available. In the uterus, ETT presented as a discrete, hemorrhagic, solid and cystic lesion that was located either in the fundus, lower uterine segment, or endocervix. Microscopically, the tumor was composed of a relatively uniform population of mononucleate intermediate trophoblastic cells forming nests and solid masses. The cells resemble the trophoblastic cells in the chorion laeve, and we have therefore designated them 'chorionic-type intermediate trophoblast.' Typically, islands of trophoblastic cells were surrounded by extensive necrosis and were associated with a hyaline-like matrix creating a 'geographic' pattern that is quite characteristic of this lesion. The mean mitotic count was two mitoses per 10 high-power fields, and the average Ki- 67 nuclear labeling index was 18%. Immunohistochemically, all cases were diffusely positive for inhibin-α, cytokeratin (AE1/AE3), epithelial membrane antigen, E-cadherin, prolyl 4-hydroxylase, and epidermal growth factor receptor but were only focally immunoreactive for human placental lactogen, human chorionic gonadotropin, PlAP, and Mel-CAM. The monomorphic growth pattern of ETT resembles placental site trophoblastic tumor to a much greater degree than choriocarcinoma which is characterized by a dimorphic population of trophoblast. In contrast to placental site trophoblastic tumor, the cells of ETT are smaller and display less nuclear pleomorphism. In addition, ETT grows in a nodular fashion compared with the infiltrative pattern of placental site trophoblastic tumor. In some of the cases, the trophoblastic cells in ETT replaced the endocervical surface epithelium, giving the appearance that the tumor was derived from the cervix. Moreover, because the associated hyaline-like material in ETT resembles keratin, the tumor can be misinterpreted as a keratinizing squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix. Ten patients underwent total hysterectomy and two had an endometrial curettage only. The two patients who presented with extrauterine ETT underwent small bowel resection and lung resection. Two of 12 patients with ETT in the uterus developed metastasis in the lungs and bone. One of these patients is alive with disease at 43 months and one patient was lost to follow-up after 2 months. One of the two patients who had extrauterine disease died of widespread tumor 36 months after diagnosis. The remainder of the patients are alive and well from 1 to 120 months. In summary, ETT is a rare trophoblastic tumor that simulates carcinoma and can behave in a malignant fashion. It appears to be less aggressive than choriocarcinoma, more closely resembling the behavior of placental site trophoblastic tumor. Based on the morphologic and immunohistochemical features, it appears that ETT develops from neoplastic transformation of chorionic-type intermediate trophoblast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1393-1403
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 1998


  • Choriocarcinoma
  • Chorionic-type
  • Epithelioid trophoblast tumor
  • Intermediate trophoblast
  • Mel-CAM
  • Placental site
  • Trophoblastic tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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