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An Unexpected Diagnosis Uncovered by Quantitative Molecular Findings: A Case Report

Alessia Buglioni, Ruifeng Guo, Kandelaria M. Rumilla, Mark A. Edgar, Svetomir N. Markovic, and Gang Zheng

A 74-year-old male presented with rectal pain; workup uncovered an anal mass, and a diagnosis of melanoma was rendered via histologic examination and immunohistochemical (IHC) studies. Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR)–based BRAF testing was performed and revealed the presence of BRAF V600E, which is a common targetable genetic alteration in melanoma. Interestingly, the ratio of mutant to wild-type copy number was low (0.3%), whereas tumor cell percentage on tissue slides was 90%. With additional workup, BRAF V600E IHC confirmed a very small subset of BRAF V600E–positive cells, and a next-generation sequencing (NGS) panel revealed a pathogenic KIT variant, p.L576P, with an allele frequency of 63%. It was initially hypothesized that the main driver of the melanoma was the KIT alteration, whereas a small subclone (not detected by NGS, which has a 5% limit of detection) was driven by the BRAF V600E detected by ddPCR. To determine whether there were morphologic differences between the 2 clones, a careful review of the histology was performed and revealed distinct morphology of the BRAF V600E–positive cells, including pale cytoplasm, nuclear grooves, and infiltrating eosinophils. Additional IHC workup of the BRAF V600E–positive cells showed coexpression of CD1a, Langerin, and S100, diagnostic of Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH). This diagnosis was unexpected and would have been missed without highly sensitive molecular testing; yet it is of clinical importance for the patient. This case raises interesting biology questions regarding the relationship between melanoma and LCH; moreover, it highlights the importance of integrating quantitative information in molecular data interpretation.