Other epithelial tumors

Glassy cell carcinoma

Topic Completed: 1 May 2007

Minor changes: 17 May 2021

Copyright: 2003-2021, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.

PubMed Search: Glassy cell carcinoma cervix

Branko Perunovic, D.M.
Ryan W. Askeland, M.D.
Page views in 2020: 4,120
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Cite this page: Perunovic B, Sunassee A, Askeland R. Glassy cell carcinoma. PathologyOutlines.com website. https://www.pathologyoutlines.com/topic/cervixglassycell.html. Accessed December 3rd, 2021.
Definition / general
  • Younger age group (mean 41 years), associated with pregnancy, HPV 16 and 18 in tumor cells (Cytojournal 2013;10:17)
  • Peak incidence 3rd to 4th decades (Cytojournal 2013;10:17)
  • Some studies have noted an association with pregnancy
Clinical features
  • 1 - 2% of cervical carcinomas
  • Historically considered more aggressive with poorer prognosis than ordinary adenosquamous carcinoma or adenocarcinoma (APMIS Suppl 1991;23:119), although recent studies show less or no difference (Am J Obstet Gynecol 2004;190:67)
  • May have peripheral blood eosinophilia
Prognosis and treatment
Poor prognostic factors:
  • Angiolymphatic invasion, deep stromal invasion, large tumor size
  • HER2 overexpression may correlate with more aggressive behavior and worse clinical outcome (Acta Cytol 2006;50:418)
Case reports
Gross description
Gross images

AFIP images

Bulky exophytic mass

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Solid nests of markedly pleomorphic, polygonal tumor cells with prominent cell membrane, glassy and eosinophilic cytoplasm, large eosinophilic nuclei, prominent nucleoli, surrounded by heavy inflammatory infiltrate containing eosinophils
  • Frequent mitotic figures
  • Pure cases have no histologic evidence of glandular or squamous differentiation (i.e. no intracellular bridges, no dyskeratosis, no intracellular glycogen), which is detectable only by EM
  • Often less invasion than is suspected
Microscopic (histologic) images

AFIP images

Sheets of cells with abundant lightly stained cytoplasm

Cells have distinct cell border and prominent nucleoli

Cytology description
  • Tumor cells arranged in sheets or clusters
  • Distinct cell borders with moderate to abundant finely granular (ground-glass-like) cytoplasm
  • Large round/oval vesicular nuclei with one or more prominent nucleoli
  • Chromatin varies from finely dispersed (Acta Cytol 2004;48:99) to coarse and irregular (Zhonghua Bing Li Xue Za Zhi 2011;40:523)
  • Cytoplasmic vacuolization and bizarre cells with multinucleation may be seen (Acta Cytol 2001;45:407)
  • Mitotic figures frequently seen
  • Background inflammatory infiltrate including frequent eosinophils, neutrophils, plasma cells, lymphocytes and necrotic debris
  • Focal abortive keratin production; squamous or glandular differentiation may be present
  • Focal clear cell differentiation may be present
Cytology images

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Abundant granular cytoplasm

Negative stains
Electron microscopy description
  • Glassy features may be due to cytoplasmic polyribosomes, abundant tonofilaments and abundant dilated rough endoplasmic reticulum (Am J Clin Pathol 1991;96:520)
  • Adenosquamous features include well developed desmosomal complexes and microvilli
  • Occasional intracellular lumina (Cancer 1983;51:2255)
Differential diagnosis
Additional references
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