High-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) has been accepted as the main precursor lesion to invasive adenocarcinoma of the prostate, and this is likely to be the case. However, in an unknown number of cases, lesions fulfilling the diagnostic criteria for high-grade PIN may actually represent intra-acinar or intraductal spread of invasive carcinoma. Intriguingly, this possibility would not contradict many of the findings of previous epidemiologic studies linking high-grade PIN to carcinoma or molecular pathologic studies showing similar genomic (e.g., TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion) as well as epigenomic and molecular phenotypic alterations between high-grade PIN and carcinoma. Also, this possibility would be consistent with previous anatomic studies in prostate specimens linking high-grade PIN and carcinoma in autopsy and other whole prostate specimens. In addition, if some cases meeting morphologic criteria for PIN actually represent intra-acinar spread of invasive carcinoma, this could be an important potential confounder of the interpretation of past clinical trials enrolling patients presumed to be without carcinoma, who are at high risk of invasive carcinoma. Thus, in order to reduce possible bias in future study/trial designs, novel molecular pathology approaches are needed to decipher when an apparent PIN lesion may be intra-acinar/intra-ductal spread of an invasive cancer and when it truly represents a precursor state. Similar approaches are needed for lesions known as intraductal carcinoma to facilitate better classification of them as true intra-ductal/acinar spread on one hand or as precursor high-grade PIN (cribriform type) on the other hand; a number of such molecular approaches (e.g., coevaluating TMPRSS-ERG fusion and PTEN loss) are already showing excellent promise. Cancer Prev Res; 9(8); 648–56. ©2016 AACR.
- Received December 14, 2015.
- Accepted January 18, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.