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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 234-236

Granulomas in association with neoplasm: A reaction or a different primary process?

1 Department of Immunopathology, PGIMER, India
2 Department of Pathology, GMCH - 32, Chandigarh, India
3 Department of Histopathology, PGIMER, India

Date of Web Publication2-Nov-2009

Correspondence Address:
S Chhabra
Department of Immunopathology, PGIMER
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0022-3859.57398

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How to cite this article:
Chhabra S, Mohan H, Bal A. Granulomas in association with neoplasm: A reaction or a different primary process?. J Postgrad Med 2009;55:234-6

How to cite this URL:
Chhabra S, Mohan H, Bal A. Granulomas in association with neoplasm: A reaction or a different primary process?. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2009 [cited 2023 Jun 8];55:234-6. Available from:


The presence of granulomatous response within the stroma of tumors and coexistence of granulomas and metastatic tumor within lymph nodes are rare phenomena. [1],[2] A summary of analysis of 11 cases of neoplasms with coexisting granulomas is presented here. All cases diagnosed as benign or malignant neoplasm with coexistent granulomas within the tumor stroma or the draining lymph nodes were retrieved from the records. Patients' clinical details, gross findings of the specimens received, and hematoxylin and eosin (H and E) stained sections were reviewed. Wherever required, special stains were done. The relevant findings are depicted in [Table 1].

Caseating epithelioid cell granulomas were seen in tumor stroma and contiguous lymph nodes in association with adenocarcinoma colon [Figure 1]a, Hodgkin's lymphoma [Figure 1]b, bronchial carcinoid, mucinous cystadenoma ovary [Figure 1]c and ampullary carcinoma. Zeihl Neelson (ZN) stain for acid-fast bacilli (AFB) was positive in only 3/7 cases. Based on the presence of caseating granulomas, the diagnosis of granulomatous inflammation consistent with tuberculosis coexistent with neoplasm was rendered. Three cases showed non-caseating sarcoid-like granulomas in stroma of follicular adenoma, metastatic deposits of medullary carcinoma thyroid and metastatic adeocarcinoma in lymph node from unknown primary [Figure 1]d. ZN stain for AFB was negative in these cases. These cases were reported as neoplasms with granulomatous reaction. In one case, both caseating and non-caseating granulomas were seen in one lymph node associated with infiltrating carcinoma breast. The findings are summarized in [Table 1].

Granulomas within the stroma of tumors have been reported in various neoplasms. However, the presence of coexisting metastatic tumor deposits and a non-caseating granulomatous reaction in lymph nodes has been described only with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, seminoma and malignant melanoma. [3] In this study, two cases of thyroid neoplasms had non-caseating granulomas. This association has not been reported so far. Their presence may be a response to material like mucin or an immunological reaction. Stromal granulomatous reaction represents a T-cell mediated immunological response to cell surface antigens. Granulomatous reaction in draining lymph nodes without metastatic deposits can be attributed to a response to a soluble tumor-related antigen reaching the lymph nodes. [1] It is not clear whether granulomas in tumors have any prognostic significance. However, before labeling this reaction as an immunological response to tumor antigens, it is important to exclude other causes of granulomatous inflammation, especially tuberculosis.

The synchronous occurrence of tuberculosis and carcinoma is unusual and this association often confuses the clinician. [4],[5] Close association of two pathological lesions always incites a debate about their etiological relationship. Coexistence of tuberculosis and carcinoma may be a simple co-incidence because of the high prevalence of tuberculosis in India or one disease process might lead to the other. Tuberculosis is known to reactivate in the setting of any immunosuppression, and malignancy is one of the causes of immunosuppression. Finally, it is important to assess whether granulomatous reaction is related to the neoplasm or is a different primary process requiring treatment.

 :: References Top

1.Kovacs J, Varga A, Bessenyei M, Gomba S. Renal cell cancer associated with sarcoid like reaction. Pathol Oncol Res 2004;10:169-71.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
2.Coyne JD. Colonic carcinoma with granulomatous (sarcoid) reaction. J Clin Pathol 2002;55:708-9.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
3.Coyne JD, Banerjee SS, Menasce LP, Mene A. Granulomatous lymphadenitis associated with metastatic malignant melanoma. Histopathology 1996;28:470-2.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
4.Pandey M, Abraham EK, Chandra Mohan K, Balakrishnan R. Tuberculosis and metastatic carcinoma coexistence in axillary lymph node: A case report World J Surg Oncol 2003;1:3.  Back to cited text no. 4      
5.Centkowski P, Sawezuk-Chabin J, Prochrec M, Warzocha K. Hodgkin's lymphoma and tuberculosis in cervical lymph nodes. Leuk Lymphoma 2005;46:471-5.  Back to cited text no. 5      


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  [Table 1]

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Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
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