Breast malignant, males, children
Carcinoma subtypes
Glycogen rich (clear cell) carcinoma

Author: Monika Roychowdhury, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 28 December 2016, last major update August 2012

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PubMed search: glycogen rich [title] carcinoma breast

Cite this page: Glycogen rich (clear cell) carcinoma. PathologyOutlines.com website. http://pathologyoutlines.com/topic/breastmalignantglycogenrich.html. Accessed May 24th, 2017.
Definition / general
  • Breast carcinoma in which at least 90% of the neoplastic cells have abundant clear cytoplasm due to glycogen
  • First described in 1981 (Cancer 1981;48:2003)
  • Rare, 1% - 3% of breast carcinomas
  • May be a variant of apocrine carcinoma
Radiology images
Images hosted on other servers:

Mammogram shows circumscribed mass

Prognostic factors
Case reports
Gross images
Images hosted on other servers:

Solid papillary pattern within cystically dilated duct (Fig 1A)

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Solid or solid / papillary patterns of large clear cells with distinct cell borders containing glycogen in 90% or more cells
  • Often associated with intraductal component of varied type
  • Often has apocrine features
  • Cells have clear to granular cytoplasm
  • May have scant intracellular mucin (Histopathology 1987;11:857)
  • No cytoplasmic vacuoles
Microscopic (histologic) images
Images hosted on PathOut server:

AFIP images:

PAS+ dark granules
are due to glycogen,
and are abolished
by diastase

Clear cells surround
a small group of
tumor cells with
amphophilic cytoplasm

Sheets of polygonal cells with
distinct borders, clear cytoplasm
and small nuclei, also lymphocytes
and plasma cells (arrows)



Images hosted on other servers:

Various images

Intraductal lipid rich carcinoma with component of glycogen rich carcinoma


Resembles renal clear cell carcinoma

Tumor cells contain abundant cytoplasmic glycogen

CK8 / 18+

Polygonal cells with distinct cell
borders, clear cytoplasm and
prominent nucleoli (Fig 1B / 1C)


Fig 1 / 2: Infiltrating nests of atypical cells with abundant clear cytoplasm
Fig 3: PAS+ granules
Fig 4: PAS staining is removed by diastase

Cytology description
  • Hypercellular with tumor cells in loosely cohesive syncytial groups and some single cells
  • Most tumor cells have abundant, finely granular eosinophilic cytoplasm or foamy to clear cytoplasm with well defined cytoplasmic membranes and moderate / marked nuclear pleomorphism with central round/oval nuclei containing prominent nucleoli (Acta Cytol 2008;52:65)
  • PAS staining may be helpful (J Med Invest 2002;49:193)
Positive stains
Negative stains
Electron microscopy description
  • Non membrane bound glycogen and empty glycogen lakes
  • Tight junctions between tumor cells, immature desmosomes, occasional short microvilli (Am J Surg Pathol 1986;10:553)
Differential diagnosis