Aberrant GATA3 Staining in Prostatic Adenocarcinoma: A Potential Diagnostic Pitfall

Timothy M. McDonald, Jonathan I. Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Distinguishing between poorly differentiated urothelial carcinoma and high-grade prostatic adenocarcinoma is a common challenge in genitourinary pathology, particularly when the tumor involves the bladder neck or prostatic urethra. Clinically, the distinction between these 2 tumors can also be difficult. Proper diagnosis in these patients is essential as they have differing prognoses and clinical management. GATA3 is thought to be a sensitive and relatively specific marker of urothelial carcinoma. However, there is scant data regarding GATA3 labeling of high-grade prostatic adenocarcinoma. The aim of this study is to describe rare cases with strong aberrant GATA3 staining in prostatic adenocarcinoma as a potential diagnostic pitfall. We identified 9 cases of prostatic adenocarcinoma with aberrant positive GATA3 staining from 2015 to 2020 as part of a large consultation service at our institution. All 9 cases were grade group 5, 8 had a Gleason score of 5+5=10 and 1 had a score of 4+5=9. Five of the cases were from the prostate, 3 from the urinary bladder, and 1 from the prostatic urethra. All cases were morphologically typical of high-grade prostatic adenocarcinoma, although were sent for consultation due to uncertainty in the diagnosis. GATA3 positivity was strong, diffuse in 4 cases; strong, patchy in 2 cases and strong, focal in 3 cases. All cases were positive for NKX3.1, 6 positive for p501s, and 6 positive for PSA, with 7/9 cases showing expression of at least 2 prostate-specific markers. The current study describes that rare cases of prostatic adenocarcinoma can show focal or diffuse strong staining for GATA3. In order to avoid this diagnostic pitfall, undifferentiated carcinomas involving the prostate, bladder neck, or trigone should be evaluated not only with GATA3 but also prostate-specific markers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-346
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • GATA3
  • prostatic adenocarcinoma
  • urothelial carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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