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The expression of basal cytokeratin markers CK5/6 in breast carcinomas has been associated with high histological grade and poor clinical outcome. A previous study has shown that CK5/6 can be detected in up to 17% of invasive lobular carcinomas (ILC). Here we study the expression of three basal cytokeratin markers (CK5/6, CK14, and CK17) in 53 ILC cases diagnosed by histology and lack of E-cadherin expression. Among them, 42 were classic lobular carcinomas, 6 were tubular-lobular carcinoma, and 5 were pleomorphic lobular carcinomas. There was no significant difference among these three groups in patients’ age, tumor size, uni- and multi-focality, expression of ER and PR, lymphovascular invasion, perineural invasion and lymph node metastasis. The only statistically different factor was HER2 over-expression, which was observed only in pleomorphic ILC (P = 0.0073). None of the 53 cases expressed CK5/6, CK14 or CK17; and 51/53 cases expressed luminal markers CK8 and CK18, and the two negative cases were both classic lobular carcinoma, with positivity for ER and PR. In conclusion, all 53 cases of ILC failed to show expression by any of the three basal CK markers, suggesting that very few ILC will demonstrate a basal phenotype when assessed by immunohistochemistry (IHC). More studies are needed to investigate molecular classification in lobular carcinoma of the breast.
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