The morphological spectrum of salivary gland type tumours of the breast

Pathology. 2017 Feb;49(2):215-227. doi: 10.1016/j.pathol.2016.10.011. Epub 2016 Dec 30.


Salivary gland like tumours of the breast constitute a wide spectrum of entities each one showing peculiar features and clinical behaviour. They can be subdivided as follows: (1) tumours showing pure myoepithelial cell differentiation, such as pure benign and malignant myoepitheliomas; (2) tumours with mixed epithelial and myoepithelial cell differentiation, such as pleomorphic adenoma, adenomyoepithelioma and adenoid cystic carcinoma; and (3) tumours with pure epithelial cell differentiation, such as acinic cell carcinoma, oncocytic carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma and polymorphous adenocarcinoma. These tumours share similar features with the salivary gland counterparts, but different clinical behaviour. Most salivary gland type tumours of the breast are negative for oestrogen and progesterone receptor and lack HER2 gene amplification, therefore they are classified as 'triple negative' tumours. Nevertheless, some of the malignant entities (such as classical adenoid cystic carcinoma) exhibit good behaviour and do not need any treatment in addition to local control. The aim of the present paper is to review the morphological and prognostic features of salivary gland like tumours of the breast, in order to highlight the correct clinical management.

Keywords: Myoepithelium; acinic cell carcinoma; adenoid cystic carcinoma; adenomyoepithelioma; mucoepidermoid carcinoma; myoepithelioma; oncocytic carcinoma; pleomorphic adenoma; polymorphous adenocarcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Pleomorphic / diagnosis
  • Adenoma, Pleomorphic / pathology*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Breast / pathology
  • Humans
  • Myoepithelioma / pathology*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Salivary Glands / pathology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor