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Epithelial tumors

Clear cell adenocarcinoma


Reviewer: Jamie Shutter, M.D., University of South Florida

Revised: 21 September 2012, last major update June 2010

Copyright: (c) 2002-2012, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.




● Tumor of post-menopausal patients that histologically resembles ovarian clear cell carcinoma with clear or hobnail cells

● ICD-O: 8310/3




● Also called clear cell carcinoma




1–5% of all endometrial adenocarcinoma

● Usually older, post-menopausal women




● A type II tumor (estrogen independent)

● Arises from atrophic endometrium (not endometrial hyperplasia), similar to serous carcinoma


Clinical features


● High grade tumors (automatically FIGO grade III)  with aggressive behavior

● Poorer prognosis than high grade (grade 3) endometrioid adenocarcinoma (Br J Cancer 2006;94:642)

If confined to corpus, has better prognosis than serous carcinoma of same stage


Case reports


● 73 year old woman with tumor arising from adenomyosis (Int J Gynecol Pathol 2009;28:262)


Micro description (Histopathology)


● Papillary, tubular, tubulocystic or sheet-like architecture

● Large, clear to rarely eosinophilic cells with glycogen, distinct margins and hobnail cells

● May have colloid-like material in tubules

● Enlarged angulated nuclei with enlarged irregular nucleoli

● Usually associated with a putative precursor lesion of isolated glands or surface epithelium (within an otherwise normal endometrial region) that displays cytoplasmic clarity or eosinophilia with varying degrees of nuclear atypia (Am J Surg Pathol 2006;30:1519)

Benign endometrium is usually atrophic, not hyperplastic


Micro images



Solid sheet of tumor cells with                                       Predominantly papillary growth

voluminous clear cytoplasm



Tubuloglandular growth with nuclear                           Tubuloglandular growth (left) blends

pleomorphism. Both clear and hobnail                         with a more solid pattern (right).

cells are present.



A solid focus of tumor is composed of                         This field shows cellular stratification, voluminous

cells with pleomorphic, hyperchromatic                     clear cytoplasm, and bizarre, occasionally

nuclei, each with one or more prominent                    multiple nuclei resembling Arias-Stella

nucleoli. Voluminous clear cytoplasm is                     change. At lower magnification, this was an

present.                                                                                obviously invasive malignant tumor.



p53 staining (figure 6)


Positive stains


● Hepatocyte nuclear 1 beta (Hum Pathol 2007;38:1074), Ki-67 (Hum Pathol 1998;29:551)


Differential Diagnosis


Clear cell carcinoma of ovarian origin

Clear cell change: no invasion, no atypia

Endometrial EIN / atypical hyperplasia with clear cell change: not invasive, clear cells lack atypia (Ann Diagn Pathol 2003;7:381)

Metastatic renal cell carcinoma


End of Uterus > Epithelial tumors > Clear cell carcinoma



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