Prostate gland & seminal vesicles

Benign mimickers of carcinoma

Partial atrophy

Topic Completed: 1 August 2015

Minor changes: 4 September 2020

Copyright: 2003-2020, Inc.

PubMed Search: partial atrophy prostate

Andres Matoso, M.D.
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Page views in 2021 to date: 1,322
Cite this page: Matoso A. Partial atrophy. website. Accessed December 8th, 2021.
Definition / general
  • Partial atrophy is a variant of atrophy, and the most common mimicker of prostate cancer
  • 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
  • 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

Contributed by Andres Matoso, M.D.
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
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