Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin: New case of an exceedingly rare primary skin tumor
Nebojsa Arsenovic
Dermatology Online Journal 14 (8): 12

Dermatopathology Section, Department of Cellular Pathology, PathLinks Pathology Services, Lincoln County Hospital, Lincoln, United Kingdom. arsenovic@doctors.org.uk

Abstract

Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin (LE-lCS) is a very rare, primary skin neoplasm of uncertain origin. The tumor reveals striking morphological similarity to undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma (lymphoepithelioma). However, the primary skin tumors have never been associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), in contrast to those at some extracutaneous sites. Since the first description by Swanson et al. in 1988, only 46 cases have been documented over the last 20 years. This case report presents an 89-year-old woman with a 0.5cm plaque-like, discolored lesion on her left cheek of one-month duration. The patient underwent surgical excision and is disease free one year later. The histopathological, immunohistochemical and EBV in situ hybridization features are described. The clinical and pathological differential diagnosis is discussed. This case supports the contention that LE-lCS is not associated with EBV.



Case Report


Clinical Data

An 89-year-old woman presented to our outpatient clinic with a month-long history of a 0.5cm plaque-like, indolent brown lesion on the left cheek. There was no ulceration. Centrally there was a 0.3cm beige papule with pearly appearance. The epidermis overlying the papule was thinned and stretched. No telangiectatic vessels were evident. No local/cervical lymphadenopathy was detected. The plaque was excised after a clinical diagnosis of nodular basal cell carcinoma. After surgical excision the patient was free of recurrent tumor or local or distant metastatic spread during a follow-up period of one year.


Microscopic Findings

Figure 1 Figure 2

Microscopic examination revealed a nodular, well-defined intradermal tumor with expansive borders without epidermal infiltration (Fig. 1). The epidermal surface showed no ulceration or evidence of dysplasia. The tumor was composed of atypical, epitheloid neoplastic cells arranged in a syncitial growth pattern with indistinct cell margins, surrounded by a dense, mostly lymphocytic infiltrate resembling a germinal centre (Figs. 2 & 3). The tumor cells were round to polygonal with eosinophilic cytoplasm and large vesicular nuclei and prominent nucleoli (Fig. 4). Mitoses were readily identified.


Figure 3 Figure 4

Figure 5 Figure 6

Immunohistochemical Profile

Neoplastic epithelioid cells showed expression of cytokeratins (AE 1/AE3) and epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), confirming epithelial differentiation (Figs. 5 & 6). Surrounding lymphocytic infiltrate was positive for CD20 and CD3 (Figs. 7 & 8). The tumor was negative for synaptophisin, chromogranin, cytokeratin (CK) 20 and TTF1. EBV-associated antibodies including anti EBV, EBNA & ZEBRA were negative. In situ hybridization for EBV-encoded RNA for detection of active and latent infection (Lytic & EBER PNA probes) were negative.


Figure 7 Figure 8

Microscopic findings along with the tumor's immunoprofile were consistent with a lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin. The main differential diagnosis, a metastasis of lymphoepithelioma of the nasopharynx or other site, was ruled out by normal head and body CT scans and a thorough ear-nose-throat examination including biopsies.


Discussion

The first case of LE-lCS was documented by Swanson et al. in 1988 [1]; since then an additional 46 cases have been reported. Similar tumors have been reported in a variety of sites including nasopharynx, salivary glands, lung, thymus, stomach, cervix, and urinary bladder [4, 5, 6, 7].

Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin is a very rare primary skin tumor of uncertain histogenesis. Adnexal and epidermal origins have been proposed based on eccrine and trichilemmal differentiation [8, 9, 10] and the rare presence of epithelial dysplasia and epidermal involvement [11, 12].

It is usually a plaque-like, firm, variously-colored, facial or neck nodule affecting approximately equally females and males in their seventies. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin is microscopically distinct from other primary skin tumors showing well-circumscribed lobules or nests of large, cohesive, epithelioid cells closely associated with a dense, mixed T and B lymphocytic infiltrate. The epithelioid component has no connection with the epidermis; the cells display poorly defined eosinophilic cytoplasm and vesicular nuclei with prominent nucleoli and increased mitotic activity, including atypical mitotic figures.

The main differential diagnosis includes undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma or metastatic lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma from other sites, poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, lymphoma, and cutaneous lymphadenoma. Detection of EBV and clinical work-up for primary lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma (LE-lC) in other organs may help in differentiating primary skin tumors from metastases. While undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma and some LE-lC of the other sites are associated with EBV [2], the skin tumors have never been reactive for EBV-encoded RNA [3]. Poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma with a marked lymphocytic host response usually reveals an epidermal origin and epithelial dysplasia. Merkel cell carcinoma displays characteristic CK20 positivity and staining for neuroendocrine markers. Melanoma and lymphoma show different immunoprofiles including positivity for S100 and lymphoid markers, respectively. Cutaneous lymphadenoma is a benign tumor with no cytological atypia or mitoses, showing peripheral palisading of the epithelial nests.

The association of LE-lC and EBV varies in different organs and locations. EBV is definitively associated with the tumors in only 4 sites: lung, thymus, salivary glands, and stomach [2].

The association of EBV with LE-lC is restricted to Asian patients with tumors of the salivary glands and lung, whereas gastric and thymic tumors related to EBV are independent of race. However, LE-lCS apparently has no relationship to EBV [3].

Whenever possible the treatment of choice for LE-lCS is complete surgical excision [13]. Radiotherapy is also a useful modality for the treatment of lymphoepitheliomas in patients with incomplete surgical excision [14].

Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin has a relatively good prognosis with low metastatic potential. Among all reported cases, 78 percent of patients were free of disease after treatment. An additional ten percent of patients had a local recurrence and only 2 patients developed lymph node metastases with a fatal outcome [1, 17].

In conclusion, LE-lCS is an exceedingly rare, but distinct pathological entity of unclear histogenesis. Immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and clinical work-up including head and body CT scans and thorough ENT examination, are important for the confirmation of the diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Despite its similarity to lymphoepithelioma a conservative surgical approach is advised [9, 13, 15]. Furthermore this case supports the lack of a relationship between EBV and lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin; this is in keeping with the other reported cases of this primary skin tumor.

Acknowledgement: I want to thank Mr. Reed for his help in polishing this article.

References

1. Swanson SA, Cooper PH, Mills SE, Wick MR.Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin. Mod Pathol. 1988 Sep;1(5):359-65. PubMed

2. Iezzoni JC, Gaffey MJ, Weiss LM. The role of Epstein-Barr virus in lymphoepithelioma-like carcinomas. Am J Clin Pathol. 1995 Mar;103(3):308-15 PubMed

3. Carr KA, Bulengo-Ransby SM, Weiss LM, Nickoloff BJ. Lymphoepitheliomalike carcinoma of the skin. A case report with immunophenotypic analysis and in situ hybridization for Epstein-Barr viral genome. Am J Surg Pathol. 1992 Sep;16(9):909-13. Erratum in: Am J Surg Pathol 1992 Dec;16(12):1252. Bulengo S [corrected to Bulengo-Ransby SM]. PubMed

4. Chan JK, Yip TT, Tsang WY, Poon YF, Wong CS, Ma VW. Specific association of Epstein-Barr virus with lymphoepithelial carcinoma among tumors and tumorlike lesions of the salivary gland. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1994 Oct;118(10):994-7. PubMed

5. Pittaluga S, Wong MP, Chung LP, Loke SL. Clonal Epstein-Barr virus in lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the lung. Am J Surg Pathol. 1993 Jul;17(7):678-82. PubMed

6. McGuire LJ, Huang DP, Teoh R, Arnold M, Wong K, Lee JC.Epstein-Barr virus genome in thymoma and thymic lymphoid hyperplasia. Am J Pathol. 1988 Jun;131(3):385-90. PubMed

7. Yuen ST, Chung LP, Leung SY, Luk IS, Chan SY, Ho J. In situ detection of Epstein-Barr virus in gastric and colorectal adenocarcinomas. Am J Surg Pathol. 1994 Nov;18(11):1158-63. PubMed

8. Ko T, Muramatsu T, Shirai T. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin. J Dermatol. 1997 Feb;24(2):104-9. PubMed

9. Robins P, Perez MI. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin treated by Mohs micrographic surgery. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1995 May;32(5 Pt 1):814-6. No abstract available. PubMed

10. Wick MR, Swanson PE, LeBoit PE, Strickler JG, Cooper PH. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin with adnexal differentiation. J Cutan Pathol. 1991 Apr;18(2):93-102. PubMed

11. Shek TW, Leung EY, Luk IS, Loong F, Chan AC, Yik YH, Lam LK. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin. Am J Dermatopathol. 1996 Dec;18(6):637-44. PubMed

12. Lind AC, Breer WA, Wick MR. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin with apparent origin in the epidermis--a pattern or an entity? A case report. Cancer. 1999 Feb 15;85(4):884-90. PubMed

13. Dozier SE, Jones TR, Nelson-Adesokan P, Hruza GJ. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin treated by Mohs micrographic surgery. Dermatol Surg. 1995 Aug;21(8):690-4. Review. PubMed

14. Ortiz-Frutos FJ, Zarco C, Gil R, Ballestin C, Iglesias L. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin. Clin Exp Dermatol. 1993 Jan;18(1):83-6. PubMed

15. Jimenez F, Clark RE, Buchanan MD, Kamino H. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin treated with Mohs micrographic surgery in combination with immune staining for cytokeratins. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1995 May;32(5 Pt 2):878-81. PubMed

16. Fenniche S, Zidi Y, Tekaya NB, Ammar FB, Yaacoub K, Mokni M, Mokhtar I, Osman AB, Zitouna MM, Haouet S. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin in a tunisian patient. Am J Dermatopathol. 2006 Feb;28(1):40-4. PubMed

17. Gillum PS, Morgan MB, Naylor MF, Everett MA. Absence of Epstein-Barr virus in lymphoepitheliomalike carcinoma of the skin. Polymerase chain reaction evidence and review of five cases. Am J Dermatopathol. 1996 Oct;18(5):478-82. PubMed

18. Hall G, Duncan A, Azurdia R, Leonard N. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin: a case with lymph node metastases at presentation. Am J Dermatopathol. 2006 Jun;28(3):211-5. PubMed

19. Glaich AS, Behroozan DS, Cohen JL, Goldberg LH. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin: a report of two cases treated with complete microscopic margin control and review of the literature. Dermatol Surg. 2006 Feb;32(2):316-9. Review. PubMed

20. Cavalieri S, Feliciani C, Massi G, Addolorato G, Gasbarrini G, Amerio P, Rotoli M. Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2007 Oct-Dec;20(4):851-4. PubMed

© 2008 Dermatology Online Journal

Follow eScholarship on  
Document Info
Search Document
Table of Contents
Supporting Material
Document Metrics
Journal Info
Similar Items
Copyright 2008 by the article author(s). This work is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
peer reviewed Peer Reviewed

Title:

Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the skin: New case of an exceedingly rare primary skin tumor

Journal Issue:

Dermatology Online Journal, 14(8)

Author:

Arsenovic, Nebojsa

Publication Date:

2008

Publication Info:

Dermatology Online Journal, UC Davis

Permalink:

http://escholarship.org/uc/item/6g85008c

Privacy Policy
CDL logo   Powered by the California Digital Library
Items in eScholarship are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.