Adrenocortical oncocytic tumors: Report of 10 cases and review of the literature

Michele Bisceglia*, Ornella Ludovico, Antonio Di Mattia, David Ben-Dor, Judith Sandbank, Gianandrea Pasquinelli, Sean K. Lau, Lawrence M. Weiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Ten additional adrenocortical oncocytic tumors are presented: 2 benign oncocytomas, 4 borderline oncocytomas of uncertain malignant potential, and 4 oncocytic carcinomas. Histologically all tumors were entirely or predominantly composed of oncocytes. Immunohistochemically all tumors were immunoreactive for mitochondrial antigen mES-13. Electron microscopy was performed in 8 cases and was confirmatory of the oncocytic cell change. The morphologic parameters of the Weiss system, considered to be predictive of the biologic behavior of conventional (nononcocytic) adrenocortical tumors, are reviewed in the context of their possible application to the oncocytic tumor variant. Proposed major criteria (high mitotic rate, atypical mitoses, venous invasion) and minor criteria (large size and huge weight, necrosis, capsular invasion, sinusoidal invasion) in distinguishing malignant tumors are discussed, and definitional criteria (predominantly cells with eosinophilic and granular cytoplasm, high nuclear grade, diffuse architectural pattern) in common with all types of oncocytic tumors are outlined. The authors' proposed working rules for diagnostic categorization of oncocytic adrenocortical tumors are defined, with the presence of 1 major criterion indicating malignancy, 1 to 4 minor criteria indicating uncertain malignant potential (borderline), and the absence of all major and minor criteria indicative of benignancy. Using these criteria, the diagnosis of malignancy was straightforward in 3 of the 4 cases designated as oncocytic carcinoma (presence of at least 2 major criteria and all the minor criteria), while in 1 case the original diagnosis of benign oncocytoma was reversed to malignant following critical review of the original pathologic material after local tumor recurrence. Tumor recurrence occurred in 2 carcinomas at 8 and 20 months, respectively, and was followed in 1 case by the patient's death. The third patient expired at 6 months from unrelated causes, and the fourth patient is free of disease at the relatively short follow-up interval of 6 months. Regarding the 4 patients with borderline tumors, all are alive with no evidence of disease, with follow-up ranging from 10 to 61 months (mean 38.7 months). The 2 benign tumors have a follow-up of 25 and 30 months, respectively. Diagnostic difficulties are delineated and a complete review of the literature on this topic has also been performed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenocortical tumor
  • Electron microscopy
  • Endocrine tumor
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Oncocytic carcinoma
  • Oncocytoma


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