Fine-Needle Aspiration of Epithelial-Myoepithelial Carcinoma of the Parotid Gland With Prominent Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma-Like Cribriform Features: Avoiding a Diagnostic Pitfall

Am J Clin Pathol. 2016 Dec;146(6):741-746. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/aqw128. Epub 2016 Sep 10.


Objectives: Epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma (EMC) is a rare salivary gland malignancy associated with an overall good prognosis. Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) typically shows a dual population of myoepithelial and ductal cells. Rarely, acellular matrix globules are present, raising a differential diagnosis of adenoid cystic carcinoma (AdCC), a more aggressive salivary gland malignancy associated with a poor long-term prognosis. We report an FNA case of EMC containing a predominant pattern of AdCC-like spherical globules.

Methods: We compare features of an unusual case of EMC with those of cribriform AdCC to arrive at morphologic clues to the correct diagnosis.

Results: Distinguishing features of EMC on FNA include (1) a prominent population of myoepithelial cells vs the predominance of basaloid cells in AdCC and (2) cohesive matrix globules with a peripheral rim of pale-staining basement membrane material compared with the dyscohesive matrix globules of AdCC. Immunochemical markers (S100, CD117, and MyB) are also useful.

Conclusions: Although EMC and AdCC can both contain spherical matrix globules, close evaluation of the cytomorphology of the globules and their relationship to surrounding cells provides a clue to distinguish the two neoplasms.

Keywords: Adenoid cystic carcinoma; Epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma; Fine-needle aspiration; Salivary gland.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parotid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Parotid Neoplasms / pathology