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Dysplasia, Carcinoma in Situ, and Invasive Carcinoma

by Richard Mitchell, MD

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    00:01 Let's look at some examples.

    00:02 Again, going down the microscope and again, not trying to turn you into pathologists, but to just have you be able to think about the concepts and how that relates to the biology of neoplasia.

    00:13 This is our lipoma, remember that little yellow ball ditzl in the middle of the small bowel? It's very well differentiated, in fact, if I showed you or I showed myself, this, and a normal amount of fat, I couldn't tell the difference, this looks like normal fat, so, it's very well differentiated.

    00:33 There are very few mitoses in here, in fact, I couldn't find any on this particular image, but needless to say, in benign tumors, there's very low mitotic rate turnover and all the mitosis look entirely normal, they have the normal bipolar appearance.

    00:49 And there's no hemorrhage or necrosis, that big red thing in the upper right-hand corner, that's just a blood vessel and there's no necrotic tissue, no hemorrhage, so, that's a benign tumor, completely benign.

    01:01 In comparison, here is our liposarcoma, it is very much dedifferentiated, looking at this no one would be able to say up front, “Oh my God, I think that that came from a fat cell.” No way, it has lost all of its normal differentiation, so, it's poorly differentiated.

    01:20 There are a bunch of mitosis here and many of them are abnormal, instead of being nice bipolar, they tend to be kind of in a circle and there are many zones of hemorrhage and necrosis.

    01:31 So, I can say, even without knowing exactly what the cell of origin was, this is a malignant tumor.

    01:38 Now, to figure out what it is, I’d have to do some additional studies, including genetics, including molecular diagnoses and including special stains.

    01:50 Let's talk about a concept that is somewhere, in between benign and malignant.

    01:56 Dysplasia.

    01:58 Dysplasia is, the state where the cell is on its way to invasive cancer, it's pre-invasive, but it is not benign, so, we're kind of in between.

    02:10 Dysplastic cells/dysplastic tissues, have acquired some of the features of malignancy, but have not yet developed into an independently and wildly mutating cell.

    02:29 Some mutations have occurred, but not enough to call it malignant.

    02:34 So, this can be a little bit fuzzy and difficult to comprehend, but it is our way of saying, if we think that this is on its way to becoming cancer, if we see it, we need to treat it and not just let it go.

    02:46 So, we're looking here on the left-hand side, normal cells stacked up, this could be a stratified cuboidal epithelium, it could be any stratified epithelium, sitting on a basement membrane.

    02:59 With mild dysplasia, some of the cells nearest the basement membrane, where the stem cells are, will have acquired some of the features allowing independent growth and you may be starting to lose some degree of differentiation and you may have some genetic mutations that you can identify.

    03:16 With severe dysplasia, almost the entire thickness of this stratified epithelium, has cells that are proliferating and have acquired some additional mutations and are well on their way to becoming malignant, but not yet.

    03:33 Carcinoma in situ, is where the cells have completely now, ticked over, spilled over and become malignant, but they haven't advanced beyond the basement membrane.

    03:47 So, that means it's carcinoma in situ and if we catch a cancer, in that period of time, before it invades beyond the basement membrane, it will not have had a chance to metastasize.

    03:59 However, once it has invaded beyond the basement membrane, it can then access lymphatics and blood vessels and other things and potentially can metastasize.

    04:08 As we talked about in a previous lecture, there are many additional steps that cells have to have, in order to be able, to become metastatic.

    04:17 They have to separate from their neighbors, they have to crawl through the basement membrane, they have to crawl through the underlying extracellular matrix, they have to crawl into blood vessels etc.

    04:27 So, there are many additional steps between carcinoma in situ to invasive.

    04:34 So, dysplasia think of it as being between benign and malignant, it has some of the features of malignancy, but not enough to formally call it cancer, but left alone, it will develop into cancer.

    04:49 A good example of this sequence of events, happens in cervical malignancies, driven typically by human papillomavirus (HPV).

    05:00 We're looking here on the left-hand side, at normal cervical epithelium and there is a polarity, we have the basal cells at the bottom, the small round blue cells, that are going to be where the proliferation is and they only proliferate for the first two or three layers up and then they stop proliferating and they start differentiating and they become bigger flatter cells with smaller nuclei until after a couple weeks, they slough off at the top.

    05:26 Completely normal.

    05:29 Here we have mild dysplasia, otherwise known as, cervical intraepithelial neoplasm (CIN I).

    05:36 So, this is low level dysplasia, there is a greater density of cells near the base, that have a slightly increased nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio, that's what's being indicated in the box, but they are still differentiating, on their way to the surface and eventually the surface cells are sloughing off reliably in the normal way and so, we have some of the features, we have increased proliferation, but we haven't yet acquired enough other genetic mutations for this to become malignant.

    06:08 By the time that we're half filling up, half of the layer of the normal stratified squamous epithelium, with now these proliferating cells with an increased nuclear cytoplasmic ratio, an increased nucleoli and increased pleomorphism, we are at cervical intraepithelial neoplasm stage (CIN II).

    06:29 And you can see that there are still at the top, cells that are becoming more squamoid and we are not yet fully there.

    06:38 By the time that we get to CIN III, the entire thickness of this epithelium has been replaced by tumor cells, so, at this point, this we would actually call, a cervical intraepithelial neoplasm (CIN III) or carcinoma in situ, the entire thickness is abnormal with cells that have increased in ratio, hyperchromasia, all the other features that we've talked about.

    07:04 So, in this process of going from benign to fully malignant, there's loss of maturation and differentiation and at this point the basement membrane is still intact.

    07:15 So, this is pre-invasive this is carcinoma in situ.

    07:22 I gave you just the example with the cervical epithelium, same thing goes on in epithelial malignancies, anywhere else.

    07:29 And we've seen this before, talking about the transition from a normal colonic epithelium, to a frankly malignant colonic epithelium.

    07:39 So, we have our normal structure, everything's going to of interest is going to be occurring in the mucosa and you can have germline or acquired mutations of tumor suppressor genes, such as the adenomatous, polyposis coli, APC gene.

    07:53 That, single hit is not enough to really do much, but that mucosa is now at risk because we have lost one copy of our APC tumor suppressor gene.

    08:03 If we get a second hit of the APC gene, in a cell or we alter some of the other associated proteins, that are going to interact with the APC protein, such as B-catenin, now we have increased proliferative capacity.

    08:20 Those cells that are proliferating there, are still not malignant, they are proliferative, they are mildly dysplastic, but they're not malignant.

    08:33 As we acquire additional other oncogene mutations, for example, K-RAS, now we can get actual growth of adenomas and depending on what mutations are occurring, this may be mildly dysplastic still.

    08:48 If we lose if we have normal P53 in the entire equation, then, we will see oncogene-induced senescence, as they get more and more replicative, they shorten and shorten, the telomeres wild type P53, says no, now you have to stop growing and we have just a benign mildly dysplastic polyp.

    09:08 But if we have other mutations, loss of other tumor suppressors, a loss or addition of other tumor oncogenes, then we can get into frank malignancy.

    09:21 Now, this example that I’m showing here for colon cancer, it doesn't always progress in the sequence that I’ve shown you and different genes can actually get you to the same endpoint.

    09:30 But again, it makes the point that along the way, we will have varying degrees of dysplasia, that we can recognize as pathologists and we know that with that dysplasia, there is potential to become, that in fact that dysplasia is premalignant.

    09:46 And if we don't deal with it, additional mutations will occur and you'll end up with cancer.

    09:53 So, carcinoma can occur, coming off dysplasia, dysplasia all by itself is not yet cancer.

    10:00 This pathway, that I’ve shown here, is only worked out for some epithelial tumors, it's not exactly well worked out for other tumors, such as, in lymphoma or melanoma or glioblastoma, or any of those others.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Dysplasia, Carcinoma in Situ, and Invasive Carcinoma by Richard Mitchell, MD is from the course Surgical Pathology of Tumors.


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. A lipoma is a well-differentiated tumor.
    2. A lipoma can infiltrate the surrounding normal tissue.
    3. A lipoma tends to have non-adipose tissue within it.
    4. A lipoma usually has high mitotic activity.
    5. A lipoma can be invasive.
    1. It represents a stage before a preinvasive tumor.
    2. It is an invasive tumor.
    3. It is usually the same as carcinoma in situ.
    4. It is a benign condition.
    5. It consists of mostly normal-appearing cells.
    1. Malignant cells that have not invaded across the basement membrane
    2. A carcinoma that has a chance to metastasize
    3. A well-differentiated cancer
    4. A very early invasive carcinoma
    5. A carcinoma that has the same metastatic potential as mild dysplasia
    1. It has the potential to metastasize.
    2. It has not crossed over the basement membrane.
    3. It is well differentiated.
    4. It can show benign behavior.
    5. It typically has a low mitotic index.
    1. It involves the entire thickness of the epithelium but has not invaded through the basement membrane.
    2. It involves the lower one-third of the thickness of the epithelium.
    3. It is essentially the same as invasive carcinoma.
    4. It has the same clinical significance as low-grade dysplasia.
    5. It is also called "low-grade intraepithelial lesion (LSIL)."
    1. Loss of one APC gene is not enough for colon cancer development.
    2. Loss of one APC gene is enough for colon cancer development.
    3. APC is an oncogene.
    4. Gain mutation in the APC gene causes colon cancer.
    5. APC gene amplification results in colon cancer.

    Author of lecture Dysplasia, Carcinoma in Situ, and Invasive Carcinoma

     Richard Mitchell, MD

    Richard Mitchell, MD


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