Salivary-type neoplasms of the breast and lung

Semin Diagn Pathol. 2003 Nov;20(4):279-304. doi: 10.1053/j.semdp.2003.09.001.


Salivary-type tumors occur in multiple sites in the human body, likely related to a basic structural homology between exocrine glands in these different anatomic areas. This paper reviews these salivary gland tumor types in breast tissue and lung. Salivary-type tumors of both breast and lung are relatively uncommon in comparison to their salivary gland counterparts. This may be attributable in part to lack of familiarity with these tumors in extra-salivary sites, and in part to histologic overlap with other primary and metastatic tumor types. Recognition of these entities is improving as the clinical and pathologic features are better delineated, and tumors are more accurately classified. Prediction of malignant behavior is not always possible in these unusual sites. In some instances, such as adenoid cystic carcinoma, behavior is known to differ considerably from that of analogous primary salivary gland tumors and in other instances there are simply too few reported cases to allow for adequate prognostication. In fact, more recent papers discuss the need to consider a spectrum encompassing benign and malignant lesions, in both breast and lung. Of course, some entities show clear-cut evidence of malignancy with documented potential for metastasis, others show bland features and well-reported benign behavior, and the less well-defined entities reside between these two extremes. The molecular pathology of salivary gland tumors has been reasonably well investigated in that location; however; there are few molecular studies devoted to salivary-type tumors of the breast and lung. This represents a potential area for future growth in further clarifying these tumors and their behavior.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mixed Tumor, Malignant / pathology*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology*