Microscopic mimics of prostatic carcinoma
Partial atrophy

Author: Andres Matoso, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 9 September 2015, last major update August 2015

Copyright: (c) 2003-2015,, Inc.

PubMed Search: partial atrophy prostate
Cite this page: Partial atrophy. website. Accessed December 16th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Partial atrophy is a variant of atrophy, and the most common mimicker of prostate cancer
  • Epidemiology
  • Atrophy and its variant partial atrophy are very common in prostate needle biopsies
  • Prognostic factors
  • Partial atrophy is not associated with an increased risk of cancer
  • Treatment
  • None
  • Gross description
  • Partial atrophy is indistinguishable grossly
  • Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Partial atrophy lacks the basophilic appearance of atrophy and the glands have a pale cytoplasm with more spaced-apart nuclei
  • Glands can be crowded and have a disorganized appearance
  • Microscopic (histologic) images
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    Images courtesy of Dr. Andres Matoso

    Positive stains
    Negative stains
  • Basal cell markers may be negative in some of the glands
  • Differential diagnosis
  • The main differential diagnosis is adenocarcinoma, Gleason score 3 + 3 = 6
  • In contrast to carcinoma, glands of partial atrophy usually have an undulated luminal border and nuclei frequently reach full height
    • Nuclei may be enlarged and show visible small nucleoli
  • While some glands are entirely negative for basal cells, focal patchy positive staining should exclude adenocarcinoma