• Users Online: 229
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

Table of Contents
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 23-27

Giant trichoblastoma of thigh mimicking dermatofibrosarcoma: An extremely rare entity with unique histology

1 Department of Pathology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry, India
2 Department of General Surgery, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry, India

Date of Submission22-Jul-2021
Date of Decision04-Sep-2021
Date of Acceptance14-Sep-2021
Date of Web Publication09-Mar-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Chokka M Kiran
Department of Pathology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry 605014.
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tjd.tjd_84_21

Rights and Permissions

Trichoblastoma is a rare benign adnexal tumor exhibiting follicular differentiation and is widely familiar for its resemblances with basal cell carcinoma. We report a case of giant trichoblastoma manifesting as a huge cutaneous nodule misdiagnosed as dermatofibrosarcoma on clinical and radiological grounds. The diverse histological features responsible for its uniqueness are discussed along with a brief review of histogenesis and histological subtypes.

Keywords: Adnexal tumor, basaloid, differentiation, nodule, trichoblastoma

How to cite this article:
Jayachandran J, Kiran CM, Ramdas A, Kumar PN. Giant trichoblastoma of thigh mimicking dermatofibrosarcoma: An extremely rare entity with unique histology. Turk J Dermatol 2022;16:23-7

How to cite this URL:
Jayachandran J, Kiran CM, Ramdas A, Kumar PN. Giant trichoblastoma of thigh mimicking dermatofibrosarcoma: An extremely rare entity with unique histology. Turk J Dermatol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 4];16:23-7. Available from: https://www.tjdonline.org/text.asp?2022/16/1/23/339258

  Introduction Top

Trichoblastomas are pure benign epithelial tumors of hair germ with a differentiation directed toward the hair bulb portion of hair follicle.[1],[2] Clinically, they manifest as well-circumscribed small dermal or hypodermal nodules in the region of head and neck, frequently misdiagnosed as basal cell carcinomas.[3] Being benign tumors, complete surgical excision usually suffices but local aggressiveness has been documented along with malignant transformation.[4] Occasional giant trichoblastomas have been described in the literature which some authors consider as large nodular type trichoblastomas, but their numbers are minimal.[5] The exact biologic behavior of these tumors cannot be ascertained in view of relative rarity of these tumors.[4]

  Case Report Top

A 50-year-old male presented to the surgical outpatient department of our hospital with a chief complaint of painless nodular swelling over the postero-lateral aspect of right thigh of 1-year duration. Clinical examination revealed a well-defined nodule of size 7 × 6 cm with superficial ulceration [Figure 1]. The nodule was freely mobile, non-tender, and firm-to-hard in consistency. There was no regional lymphadenopathy. With a provisional clinical diagnosis of dermatofibrosarcoma, the patient was referred to the Department of Radiology for further evaluation. USG showed a hyperechoic lesion of size 6 × 6 × 3 cm in the subcutaneous plane with compression of the underlying muscle. A radiologic diagnosis of benign soft tissue tumor was offered. Wide local excision of the nodule under spinal anesthesia was planned. Intra-operatively, the nodule was found localized to the dermis. There was no evidence of infiltration of the nodule into the underlying subcutaneous tissue. No undue bleeding was noted. The nodule was excised in toto with margins of more than 1 cm and subsequently sent for histopathological examination.
Figure 1: Nodule with superficial ulceration

Click here to view

Gross examination showed a well-oriented, elliptical wide excision specimen measuring 12 × 7 × 3.5 cm with a central raised nodule measuring 6 × 6 cm. Surface of the nodule showed three ulcers. The cut surface showed a well-circumscribed, lobulated, and solid gray white tumor with pushing margins [Figure 2]. The deep resected surgical margin was free from tumor involvement. Microscopy showed a tumor seated over the deep dermis exhibiting a nodular configuration with intervening fibro-myxoid stroma. The tumor component revealed predominantly small basaloid cells with evidence of peripheral palisading and focal cleft artifacting, cords of larger tumor cells demonstrating reticulated pattern, papillary mesenchymal bodies, squamous eddies, and extensive areas of calcification. Focal areas showed marked cytologic atypia, abnormal mitoses, and melanin pigment [Figure 3][Figure 4][Figure 5][Figure 6][Figure 7][Figure 8][Figure 9]. However, there was no involvement of epidermis by the tumor. With extensive tumor sampling and thorough literature review, a diagnosis of trichoblastoma was considered.
Figure 2: Lobulated gray white tumor with pushing margins

Click here to view
Figure 3: Skin with underlying tumor composed of nodules of basaloid cells, H & E, x40

Click here to view
Figure 4: Tumor cells arranged in reticulate pattern, H & E, x100

Click here to view
Figure 5: Tumor cells showing peripheral palisading, H & E, x100

Click here to view
Figure 6: Tumor nodules with retraction artifact, H & E, x100

Click here to view
Figure 7: Marked nuclear atypia with mitosis, H & E, x400

Click here to view
Figure 8: Squamous eddies, H & E, x400

Click here to view
Figure 9: Extensive dystrophic calcification, H & E, x100

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

The oldest known description related to hair follicle tumors dates back to 1962 where Headington and French initially described a tumor in a young 25-year-old Caucasian female. “Primary neoplasm of hair matrix” was the preferred umbrella term used to describe these tumors which showed evidence of distinct morphodifferentiation toward hair follicles and they coined the term “trichogenic adnexal tumor” to describe this entity. Later in 1970, they used the term trichoblastoma to describe these tumors. Based on the proportion of epithelial and mesenchymal elements in the tumor, Headington divided trichoblastomas into several subtypes. However, Ackerman preferred a single designation.[4]

Trichoblastomas are rare, slow-growing benign tumors with differentiation toward primitive hair follicles. Most often they manifest between fifth and seventh decades of life. However, any age group is afflicted except young children.[6] Clinically, they present as asymptomatic, solitary, well-circumscribed skin-colored to brown or blue-black nodules localized to head and neck with a prediliction for scalp. Involvement of trunk, proximal extremities, perianal and genital areas has been reported by some authors, but involvement of distal extremities is a rare event with less than 10 cases reported in the literature. They usually take the form of dermal nodules or papules measuring less than 2 cm, but enormous sizes up to 8 cm have been recorded.[7]

Majority of the tumors are sporadic and isolated. Some sporadic cases have been associated with certain genetic mutations particularly 9q22.3. An association with familial syndromes such as Brooke–Spiegler syndrome and Brooke–Fordyce syndrome is well known.[7]

Histologically pure trichoblastomas show lobules of uniform basaloid cells with prominent peripheral nuclear palisading and occassional cleft artifacting as described originally by Headington. Tumors with evidence of induction are characterized by the mesenchymal component, follicles in various stages of differentiation, and a secondary population of larger cells with pink cytoplasm resembling outer root sheath cells. Infundibulocystic, squamous, and sebaceous differentiation may be found. Cytologic atypia and mitoses are extremely rare.[1],[3] Numerous histological subtypes such as nodular (small and large), retiform, cribriform, racemiform, columnar, and adamantinoid have been described.[7]

To the best of our knowledge, our case is one of those unique entities. A wide range of abnormal clinical and pathologic findings was recorded. To start with, the location of the tumor was at an unusual site with abnormal size misleading the clinician to an erroneous diagnosis of dermatofibrosarcoma. On microscopy, a constellation of rare findings such as cytologic atypia, abnormal mitoses (2/10 hpf), squamous eddies, extensive dystrophic calcification, retraction artifacts, focal melanin pigmentation, and mixed histological patterns were made out. Basal cell carcinoma which is the closest differential diagnosis was easily excluded on morphological and immunohistochemical grounds. Morphologically, the tumor had no connection anywhere to the overlying epidermis. Immunohistochemically, the tumor cells were negative for BerEP4, an epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM). Strong CK positivity was noted in the tumor cells indicating differentiation toward follicular outer root sheath. Ki 67 shows a proliferative index of 64%. Moreover, the presence of other histological features such as relatively larger tumor cells in reticulate pattern, infundibulocystic structures, and papillary mesenchymal bodies aided in making a diagnosis of trichoblastoma.

Tumors usually greater than 5 cm are considered as giant trichoblastomas and their reported numbers in literature are very few. A brief compilation of some of the reported cases is shown in [Table 1].
Table 1: Clinico-pathological profile of various giant trichoblastomas in literature

Click here to view

In general, the behavior of these tumors is quite indolent, often persisting for years before a histological diagnosis is made. Local aggressive behavior is well-recognized contemplating the need for wide local excision as these tumors show evidence of invasion into the underlying skeletal muscle as reported by Cowen et al.[13] Such tumors have been designated by various terminologies such as low-grade trichoblastic carcinomas or unusually aggressive trichoblastomas.[14] Malignant transformation with demonstration of distant metastases in long-standing trichoblastomas has been reported by Regauer et al.[15] and Schulz et al.[16]

To conclude, trichoblastoma is a rare benign cutaneous tumor derived from follicular germinative cells showing varying histological features. Precise clinical diagnosis is essential as complete surgical excision is usually curative despite local aggressiveness.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Headington JT. Tumors of the hair follicle. A review. Am J Pathol 1976;85:479-514.  Back to cited text no. 1
Fulton EH, Kaley JR, Gardner JM. Skin adnexal tumors in plain language: A practical approach for the general surgical pathologist. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2019;143:832-51.  Back to cited text no. 2
Tellechea O, Cardoso JC, Reis JP, Ramos L, Gameiro AR, Coutinho I, et al. Benign follicular tumors. An Bras Dermatol 2015;90:780-96; quiz 797-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Rofagha R, Usmani AS, Vadmal M, Hessel AB, Pellegrini AE. Trichoblastic carcinoma: A report of two cases of a deeply infiltrative trichoblastic neoplasm. Dermatol Surg 2001;27:663-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Requena L, Barat A. Giant trichoblastoma on the scalp. Am J Dermatopathol 1993;15:497-502.  Back to cited text no. 5
Pragati J, Karmarkar , Mahore SD, Wilkinson AR. Solitary trichoblastoma. Indian J Pathol Microbiol 2009;52:277-78.  Back to cited text no. 6
Patel P, Nawrocki S, Hinther K, Khachemoune A. Trichoblastomas mimicking basal cell carcinoma: The importance of identification and differentiation. Cureus 2020;12:e8272.  Back to cited text no. 7
Ogata T, Tanaka S, Goto T, Iijima T, Kawano H, Sasaki M, et al. Giant trichoblastoma mimicking malignancy. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 1999;119:225-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
Morillo V, Manrique P, Vildósola S, Saiz A, Artola JL, Bilbao I. [Giant trichoblastoma]. Acta Dermosifiliogr 2006;97:467-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
Landolsi A, Khaled A, Bougacha L, Helali H, Kourda N, Fazaa B, et al. Giant trichoblastoma of the scalp. Tunis Med 2011;89:569-72.  Back to cited text no. 10
Nguyen LV, Masouminia M, Choy JO, Peng SK, Ji P, French SW. Atypical giant trichoblastoma: An unusual presentation. Exp Mol Pathol 2017;102:22-4.  Back to cited text no. 11
Frings VG, Goebeler M, Kneitz H. Dermpath & clinic: Giant trichoblastoma of the leg. Eur J Dermatol 2017;27:447-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
Cowen EW, Helm KF, Billingsley EM. An unusually aggressive trichoblastoma. J Am Acad Dermatol 2000;42:374-7.  Back to cited text no. 13
Hua C, Velter C, Osio A, Lebbe C, Basset-Seguin N, Cribier B, et al. Locally aggressive trichoblastic tumors (low-grade trichoblastic carcinomas): Clinicopathological analysis and follow-up. Acta Derm Venerol2018;98:126-7.  Back to cited text no. 14
Regauer S, Beham-Schmid C, Okcu M, Hartner E, Mannweiler S. Trichoblastic carcinoma (“malignant trichoblastoma”) with lymphatic and hematogenous metastases. Mod Pathol 2000;13: 673-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
Schulz T, Proske S, Hartschuh W, Kurzen H, Paul E, Wünsch PH. High-grade trichoblastic carcinoma arising in trichoblastoma: A rare adnexal neoplasm often showing metastatic spread. Am J Dermatopathol 2005;27:9-16.  Back to cited text no. 16


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9]

  [Table 1]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
Case Report
Article Figures
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded60    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal