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Open Access Case report

Pleomorphic lobular carcinoma of the male breast with axillary lymph node involvement: a case report and review of literature

Muhammad Nauman Zahir1*, Khurram Minhas2 and Munira Shabbir-Moosajee1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oncology, Aga Khan University Hospital, Stadium Road, PO BOX: 3500, Karachi 74800, Pakistan

2 Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, PO BOX: 3500, Karachi 74800, Pakistan

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BMC Clinical Pathology 2014, 14:16  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-14-16

Published: 27 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Carcinoma of the male breast is responsible for less than 1% of all malignancies in men but the incidence is rising. Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common histological subtype while invasive lobular carcinoma is responsible for only 1.5% of the total cases of which pleomorpic lobular carcinoma is an extremely rare variant. We report the case of a gentleman with node positive, pleomorphic lobular carcinoma of the breast.

Case presentation

An elderly gentleman with a past history of type 2 diabetes and long term ethanol use presented to us with a self-discovered palpable lump in the left breast. Physical examination revealed bilateral gynaecomastia along with a well circumscribed subareolar mass and palpable lymphadenopathy in the ipsilateral axilla. The breast nodule revealed atypical cells on fine needle aspiration biopsy and the patient underwent a modified radical mastectomy after systemic surveillance was negative for metastatic disease. The lesion was reported as grade III pleomorphic lobular carcinoma with a lack of E-cadherin expression on immunohistochemistry and the neoplastic cells exhibited strong positivity for estrogen receptor in the absence of Her2 gene amplification. Six out of the eleven dissected regional lymph nodes showed evidence of disease. The patient completed 4 cycles of adjuvant chemotherapy without evidence of recurrent disease and was subsequently lost to follow up.

Conclusions

Although invasive lobular carcinomas comprise 12% of all female breast cancers, they are very rare in males due to lack of acini and lobules in the normal male breast. Pleomorphic lobular carcinoma, an aggressive variant of ILC is even rarer in males.

Chronic consumption of ethanol by our patient may have resulted in some degree of hepatic impairment with resultant hyperestrogenism. This in theory may have been the cause of his gynaecomastia, resultant breast cancer and is a plausible explanation for development of the invasive lobular subtype in a male. The prognosis and clinicopatholocial features of pleomorphic lobular carcinoma in men are less clearly defined due to its rarity. Additional studies are hence necessary to improve our understanding of this disease in males.

Keywords:
Male breast cancer; Pleomorphic lobular carcinoma; E-cadherin