Atrophy of the prostate gland

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Atrophy of the prostate gland
Diagnosis in short

Atrophic prostatic glands. H&E stain.

LM glands typically have a jagged edges/prows (in cancer the glands tend to have round edges), gland density is usually lower than in prostate carcinoma (glands are not back-to-back), nuclei small & hyperchromatic, scant cytoplasm
LM DDx prostate carcinoma - esp. atrophic prostate carcinoma, atypical small acinar proliferation
IHC AMACR -ve, p63 +ve (basal cells), CK34betaE12 +ve (basal cells)
Site prostate gland

Symptoms none
Prevalence very common
Prognosis benign
Treatment none

Atrophy of the prostate gland, also prostatic atrophy, is a common change in the prostate gland.



It can be classified into:[4]

  1. Focal prostatic atrophy.
  2. Diffuse prostatic atrophy.

Focal atrophy can be subclassified as:[4]

  1. Partial.
  2. Complete.
  3. Combined.



  • Glands often have a jagged edges/prows (in cancer the glands tend to have round edges) - key feature.
    • Prow = forward most part of a ship's bow that cuts through the water.[5]
      • You may have come across prow in the context of breast cancer, i.e. tubular carcinoma.
  • Gland density is usually lower than in prostate carcinoma, i.e. glands are not back-to-back - key feature.
  • Atrophic glands are often hyperchromatic.[6]
  • Scant cytoplasm - usually.


  • Nuclei like normal, i.e. nucleoli uncommon.
  • Should have two cell layers, i.e. epithelial and myoepithelial (may be difficult to see).


  • Atrophic glands may be scattered with non-atrophic ones.
  • IHC may be misleading - basal cell loss.


Atrophy versus cancer

Histologic feature Atrophy Cancer
Glandular architecture/
angulated glands, may
look like they originate
from one large duct
round glands,
often back-to-back
marked moderate
Cytoplasm scant/minimal moderate, may
be amphophilic
Basal cells may be visible absent
Nucleoli absent present
Secretions in
no yes - eosinophilic
or blue




  • Classically like normal prostate (AMACR -ve, p63 +ve, CK34betaE12 +ve).
    • May be negative for basal cell markers, i.e. p63 and CK34betaE12.[1]

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Generally, this finding is not reported; it is considered a normal finding.

Left Apex:
- Benign prostate tissue with glandular atrophy.


The core shows rare, spaced, atrophic appearing glands, mostly with a wavy border and a decreased quantity of cytoplasm. Prominent nucleoli and significant nuclear enlargement are not identified.

There are none of the following: mitoses, adjacent PIN, suspicious luminal material, nuclear hyperchromasia.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wang, W.; Sun, X.; Epstein, JI. (Jun 2008). "Partial atrophy on prostate needle biopsy cores: a morphologic and immunohistochemical study.". Am J Surg Pathol 32 (6): 851-7. doi:10.1097/PAS.0b013e31815a0508. PMID 18408595. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "pmid18408595" defined multiple times with different content
  2. De Marzo, AM.; Marchi, VL.; Epstein, JI.; Nelson, WG. (Dec 1999). "Proliferative inflammatory atrophy of the prostate: implications for prostatic carcinogenesis.". Am J Pathol 155 (6): 1985-92. doi:10.1016/S0002-9440(10)65517-4. PMID 10595928.
  3. Celma, A.; Servián, P.; Planas, J.; Placer, J.; Quilez, MT.; Arbós, MA.; de Torres, I.; Morote, J. (Mar 2014). "Clinical Significance of Proliferative Inflammatory Atrophy in Prostate Biopsy.". Actas Urol Esp 38 (2): 122-126. doi:10.1016/j.acuro.2013.04.008. PMID 24129226.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Billis, A.. "Prostatic atrophy. Clinicopathological significance.". Int Braz J Urol 36 (4): 401-9. PMID 20815946.
  6. SN. June 3, 2009.