by Jason Wasserman MD PhD FRCPC
June 1, 2022

What does desmoplasia mean?

Desmoplasia is an abnormal tissue reaction caused by specialized connective tissue called stroma coming into contact with cancer cells. When examined under the microscope, desmoplasia often looks light blue. Long thin support cells called fibroblasts may also be seen. Another word that means the same thing as desmoplasia is desmoplastic.


This picture is an example of desmoplasia. In the picture, cancer cells are surrounded by blue/purple coloured stroma.

Why is desmoplasia important?

Seeing desmoplasia in a tissue sample alerts pathologists to look closely for cancer cells. This change is especially helpful because it makes it easier to find even small groups of cancer cells. Desmoplasia can also be used to tell the difference between early or non-invasive cancer and invasive cancer because desmoplasia is usually only seen with invasive cancer.

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