Malignant fibrous histiocytoma, giant cell type, of the breast mimicking metaplastic carcinoma: A case report

Sony Wiriosuparto, Nina Krassilnik, Adrian Gologan, Jean Marc Cohen, Bruce Wenig

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BACKGROUND: We report a case of malignant fibrous histiocytoma, giant cell type (MFHGC), of the breast. A review of the literature failed to reveal cytology-based reports on this entity. The cytologic similarity of breast MFHGC on fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) to other malignant breast neoplasms, including carcinoma with osteoclastlike giant cells, metaplastic carcinoma and breast sarcomas, as well as benign reactive processes, makes the recognition of this tumor challenging. CASE: A 72-year-old woman presented with a 5-month history of an enlarging breast mass. FNAB of the mas showed a hypercellular smear composed of cohesive, branching clusters of spindle cells with ovoid, focally hyperchromatic nuclei and inconspicuous nucleoli. Interspersed osteoclastlike giant cells, some associated with clusters of spindle cells, were uniformly seen throughout the smear. The background was hemorrhagic, with cellular debris and occasional spindle cells and lymphocytes. No ductal epithelial or myoepithelial cells were seen. An incisional biopsy was performed, followed by radical mastectomy. The histologic examination was diagnostic of MFHGC. The diagnosis was supported by immunohistochemical and electron microscopic studies. CONCLUSION: MFHGC, also called primary giant cell tumor of soft tissues, is composed of a mixture of histiocytes, fibroblasts and bland-appearing osteoclastlike giant cells with a multinodular growth pattern. Although MFHGC rarely occurs in the breast and the definitive diagnosis is difficult based on cytology alone, the diagnosis can be considered when a cytologic examination reveals a hypercellular, spindle cell smear with osteoclastlike giant cells in the absence of ductal epithelial or myoepithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-678
Number of pages6
JournalActa Cytologica
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Aspiration bipsy
  • Breast cancer
  • Giant cells
  • Histiocytoma, fibrous
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma


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