Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus

Author(s): Bena Law, Medical Student, University of Auckland, New Zealand. DermNet NZ Editor-in-Chief: A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand. Copy edited by Gus Mitchell. February 2019.

What is fibroepithelioma of Pinkus?

Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus, also known as Pinkus tumour and Pinkus epithelioma, is a premalignant fibroepithelial tumour first described by Hermann Pinkus in 1953 [1]. Originally classified as a rare variant of basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a malignant neoplasm, it has since been controversially reclassified as a trichoblastoma, a benign neoplasm [2–4].

Clinically, fibroepithelioma of Pinkus may resemble a range of benign skin tumours that are not routinely excised [5].

Who gets fibroepithelioma of Pinkus?

There are few reported cases and little epidemiological data for fibroepithelioma of Pinkus. This may be due to its similarity to benign skin lesions, resulting in the rarity of diagnosis [6].

Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus is diagnosed mainly in fair-skinned women and is most frequently located in the lumbosacral region, although it may occur anywhere on the skin [5,7]. It typically develops between 40 and 60 years of age, although there have been paediatric case reports [8,9].

What causes fibroepithelioma of Pinkus?

The pathogenesis and genetic basis of fibroepithelioma of Pinkus are not yet fully understood. Although the mechanisms may be similar to the development of BCC, chronic ultraviolet damage seems to be a lesser factor in fibroepithelioma of Pinkus, as they do not commonly develop in areas that are routinely exposed to the sun [3,5].

A previous study with mice has shown that mutations in the patched (PTCH) transmembrane regulator gene in the Hedgehog signalling pathway may be involved in the development of fibroepithelioma of Pinkus [10]. Further studies are required to determine its role in humans. In addition, there have been reports of fibroepithelioma of Pinkus arising in skin sites post-radiation therapy, although a direct relationship is yet to be defined [11].

What are the clinical features of fibroepithelioma of Pinkus?

Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus typically presents as a single, erythematous or flesh-coloured, dome-shaped papule or plaque. Large pedunculated, ulcerated, cystic, and pleomorphic variants with different pigmentation combinations have also been reported [5,7].

Unlike BCC, there have been no reports of spontaneous bleeding in fibroepithelioma of Pinkus.

What are the complications of fibroepithelioma of Pinkus?

Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus is not known to result in further complications or malignancy. It has rarely been associated with other malignancies, such as breast carcinoma, mammary Paget disease, and gastrointestinal tumours [12–14].

How is fibroepithelioma of Pinkus diagnosed?


Whilst clinical examination is unlikely to lead to a diagnosis of fibroepithelioma of Pinkus, due to its similarity to benign lesions, dermoscopy can be helpful in diagnosis [6]. The dermoscopic patterns of fibroepithelioma of Pinkus can be summarised as follows [3,6].

  • Polymorphous vessels with mainly fine arborising and peripheral dotted vessels
  • White streaks under polarised dermoscopy (also called chrysalis/crystalline structures) similar to those in BCC
  • Milia-like cysts and ulceration (reported but not specific for fibroepithelioma of Pinkus)
  • Grey-brown pigmentation and grey-blue dots (in pigmented fibroepithelioma of Pinkus).

Skin biopsy

The gold standard diagnostic test for fibroepithelioma of Pinkus is a skin biopsy for histopathologic examination. Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus is characterised by anastomosing, branching strands of basaloid cells embedded by a loose, richly vascularised fibrous stroma extending from the epidermis down into the dermis [3,16].

Histology of fibroepithelioma of Pinkus 

Creator: LWozniak&KWZielinski [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Downloaded from: 

What is the differential diagnosis for fibroepithelioma of Pinkus?

Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus is typically mistaken for the following benign skin lesions.

What is the treatment for fibroepithelioma of Pinkus?

The definitive treatment for fibroepithelioma of Pinkus is surgical excision with 4 mm margins, as is indicated for BCC [4]. Electrodessication and curettage or Mohs micrographic surgery could be considered in higher-risk locations such as the head and neck or in large tumours [3,7].

Medical topical treatments, such as imiquimod, are ineffective for fibroepithelioma of Pinkus despite their role in the treatment of superficial BCC [6]. There is no role for chemotherapy or radiation.

What is the outcome for fibroepithelioma of Pinkus?

Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus is generally considered to have an indolent course with no metastatic potential [7,8]. It has never been reported to result in patient death [17].

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Related information



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  2. Sellheyer K, Nelson P, Kutzner H. Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus is a true basal cell carcinoma developing in association with a newly identified tumour‐specific type of epidermal hyperplasia. Br J Dermatol 2012; 166: 88–97. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10612.x. PubMed
  3. Haddock ES, Cohen PR. Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus revisited. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) 2016; 6: 347–62. DOI: 10.1007/s13555-016-0123-8. PubMed Central
  4. Bowen AR, LeBoit PE. Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus is a fenestrated trichoblastoma. Am J Dermatopathol 2005; 27: 149–54. DOI: 10.1097/ Journal
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  9. Scalvenzi M, Francia MG, Falleti J, Balato A. Basal cell carcinoma with fibroepithelioma‐like histology in a healthy child: report and review of the literature. Pediatr Dermatol 2008; 25: 359–63. DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2008.00683.x. PubMed
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  12. Ishida-Yamamoto A, Sato K, Wada T, et al. Fibroepithelioma-like changes occurring in perianal Paget’s disease with rectal mucinous carcinoma: case report and review of 49 cases of extramammary Paget’s disease. J Cutan Pathol 2002; 29: 185–9. PubMed
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