The utility of cytokeratin 5/6 in the recognition of cutaneous spindle cell squamous cell carcinoma
Article first published online: 12 JAN 2002
Journal of Cutaneous Pathology
Volume 28, Issue 10, pages 520–524, November 2001
How to Cite
Sigel, J. E., Skacel, M., Bergfeld, W. F., House, N. S., Rabkin, M. S. and Goldblum, J. R. (2001), The utility of cytokeratin 5/6 in the recognition of cutaneous spindle cell squamous cell carcinoma. Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, 28: 520–524. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0560.2001.281005.x
- Issue published online: 12 JAN 2002
- Article first published online: 12 JAN 2002
- Accepted April 20, 2001
Background: Cutaneous spindle cell squamous cell carcinoma (SSCC) is a challenging diagnosis since it may be difficult to distinguish from spindle cell melanoma, leiomyosarcoma and atypical fibroxanthoma. Furthermore, it may be difficult to demonstrate epithelial differentiation by a traditional immunohistochemical panel. We performed an expanded immunohistochemical evaluation of ultrastructurally documented SSCC to assess its utility in diagnosing this entity.
Methods: We identified 16 cases of SSCC that were composed predominantly of spindle-shaped cells and with ultrastructural evidence of epithelial differentiation (i.e. at least rudimentary cell junctions). Immunohistochemical analysis using antibodies to a variety of cytokeratins (AE1/3, K903, CK5/6) and S-100 protein was performed. The extent of immunostaining was graded on a scale of 0 to 4+ (0: no staining; 1+: ≤25%; 2+: 26–50%; 3+: 51–75%; 4+: >75%).
Results: Of the 16 cases, 6 expressed AE1/3 (38%), 8 expressed K903 (50%) and 11 (69%) expressed CK5/6. Six cases were positive for all three CK markers and two cases were positive for both K903 and CK5/6 but negative for AE1/3. Three cases (19%) stained for CK5/6 without any staining for AE1/3 or K903. Five cases (31%) were negative for all epithelial markers. The extent of CK5/6 staining was either similar to or greater than K903 staining in 7 of 8 cases that stained with both markers. All 16 cases were negative for S-100 protein.
Conclusions: Including CK5/6 in the initial battery of immunostains performed on a cutaneous spindle cell neoplasm can help demonstrate epithelial differentiation in SSCC, even in the absence of AE1/3 or K903 staining. However, some cases of cutaneous SSCC can only be confirmed ultrastructurally, as up to one-third may not show evidence of epithelial differentiation using an expanded immunohistochemical panel.