Cheilitis glandularis: clinico-histopathological diagnostic criteria

Oral Dis. 2011 Apr;17(3):335-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2010.01762.x. Epub 2010 Oct 28.


Objectives: To present a combination of clinical and histopathological criteria for diagnosing cheilitis glandularis (CG), and to evaluate the association between CG and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Materials and methods: The medical literature in English was searched from 1950 to 2010 and selected demographic data, and clinical and histopathological features of CG were retrieved and analysed.

Results: A total of 77 cases have been published and four new cases were added to the collective data. The clinical criteria applied included the coexistence of multiple lesions and mucoid/purulent discharge, while the histopathological criteria included two or more of the following findings: sialectasia, chronic inflammation, mucous/oncocytic metaplasia and mucin in ducts. Only 47 (58.0%) cases involving patients with a mean age of 48.5 ± 20.3 years and a male-to-female ratio of 2.9:1 fulfilled the criteria. The lower lip alone was most commonly affected (70.2%). CG was associated with SCC in only three cases (3.5%) for which there was a clear aetiological factor for the malignancy.

Conclusions: The proposed diagnostic criteria can assist in delineating true CG from a variety of lesions with a comparable clinical/histopathological presentation. CG in association with premalignant/malignant epithelial changes of the lower lip may represent secondary, reactive changes of the salivary glands.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Cheilitis / diagnosis
  • Cheilitis / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dilatation, Pathologic / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lip Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Lip Diseases / pathology
  • Lip Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Metaplasia
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucins / analysis
  • Oxyphil Cells / pathology
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Salivary Glands, Minor / pathology*
  • Sialadenitis / diagnosis
  • Sialadenitis / pathology
  • Suppuration
  • Young Adult


  • Mucins

Supplementary concepts

  • Cheilitis glandularis