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Cancer. 1996 Sep 1;78(5):958-67.

Low grade salivary duct carcinoma. A distinctive variant with a low grade histology and a predominant intraductal growth pattern.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235-9072, USA.



Salivary duct carcinoma (SDC) has been established as a morphologically distinct and highly aggressive (HG) malignancy of the major salivary glands. However, a low grade (LG) or intermediate grade salivary duct neoplasm has not been described.


We report the clinicopathologic findings of 10 cases believed to represent the (LG) counterpart of SDC. Immunoperoxidase stains were performed on five cases, and electron microscopy on three.


All of the tumors occurred in adult patients with no sex predilection, and presented as slow growing parotid gland lesions. Four cases involved the superficial lobe, one the deep lobe, and one arose within an intraparotid lymph node. The exact location of the tumor within the parotid gland was not stated in four cases. The size of the tumors ranged from 0.7 to 4 cm in greatest dimension, with most measuring between 1 and 2 cm. The gross appearance was focally to predominantly cystic. Microscopically, the tumors were characterized by intraductal proliferative lesions exhibiting three main patterns: (1) cystic ducts with micropapillary, tufted, and plaque-like intraluminal projections; (2) ducts distended by a solid or pseudocribriform (fenestrated) cellular proliferation, with varied cystic dilatation; and (3) ducts exhibiting architectural atypia. The three patterns coexisted and merged in most tumors, in varying proportions. All tumors shared bland to LG cytologic features, with the exception of one that had focal high-grade cytologic ductal atypia. Despite gross circumscription, there was microscopic multifocality, and in one case, stromal invasion. By immunohistochemistry, the neoplastic cells expressed the conventional ductal and glandular epithelial cell markers in addition to strong positivity for S-100 with coexpression for CK-903. Electron microscopy confirmed the ductal phenotype of the tumors and supported an in situ process evidenced by the presence of native myoepithelial cells. Nine patients underwent total parotidectomy and one superficial parotidectomy. One patient received radiation therapy following total parotidectomy. Follow-up for 6 cases ranged from 2 to 12 years and revealed no evidence of disease.


LG-SDC represents the LG end of the spectrum of salivary duct malignant neoplasms and exhibits differentiation towards an intercalated duct-like cell phenotype. Its relationship to HG-SDC should be further explored.

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