Exocrine tumors / carcinomas
Foamy gland pattern of pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Topic Completed: 1 August 2012

Revised: 28 January 2019

Copyright: (c) 2002-2019,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Foamy gland pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Deepali Jain, M.D.
Page views in 2018: 710
Page views in 2019 to date: 514
Cite this page: Jain D. Foamy gland pattern of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. website. Accessed August 19th, 2019.
Definition / general
  • Deceptively benign appearing pattern with prominent microvesicular (foamy) cytoplasm, first described in 2000 in pancreas (Am J Surg Pathol 2000;24:493)
  • Also described in prostate
  • Considered a ductal pattern, not a WHO variant
Clinical features
  • Tumors are malignant architecturally and metastasize
  • Clinical course, p53 and KRAS mutations similar to usual ductal adenocarcinoma
  • Foamy PanIN is considered as precursor (Ann Diagn Pathol 2008;12:252)
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Well formed glands with bland cells but subtle infiltration
  • Cells have abundant microvesicular (white and crisply foamy) cytoplasm with distinct pink brush border-like zone at apical / luminal portion of the cell
  • Nuclei are basal oriented, dense or wrinkled (raisinoid)
  • May be misinterpreted as benign mucinous ducts; apical cytoplasmic folds in benign mucinous ducts should be differentiated from brush border-like zone
  • Foamy material is due to evenly sized mucigen granules that are mucin negative
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Invasive glands lined by foamy cells

PanIN3 lesion (left) is
Alcian blue+, as is
invasive foamy gland
adenocarcinoma (right)

PanIN3 lesion (left)
is MUC1+, as is
invasive foamy gland
adenocarcinoma (right)

Cytology description
Cytology images

Images hosted on other servers:

Cells with abundant foamy cytoplasm

Positive stains
Negative stains
  • Brush border-like zone: PAS, MUC2
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