Topics in histopathology of sweat gland and sebaceous neoplasms

J Dermatol. 2017 Mar;44(3):315-326. doi: 10.1111/1346-8138.13555.


This article reviews several topics regarding sweat gland and sebaceous neoplasms. First, the clinicopathological characteristics of poroid neoplasms are summarized. It was recently reported that one-fourth of poroid neoplasms are composite tumors and one-fourth are apocrine type lesions. Recent progress in the immunohistochemical diagnosis of sweat gland neoplasms is also reviewed. CD117 can help to distinguish sweat gland or sebaceous tumors from other non-Merkel cell epithelial tumors of the skin. For immunohistochemical differential diagnosis between sweat gland carcinoma (SGC) other than primary cutanesous apocrine carcinoma and skin metastasis of breast carcinoma (SMBC), a panel of antibodies may be useful, including p63 (SGC+ , SMBC- ), CK5/6 (SGC+ , SMBC- ), podoplanin (SGC+ , SMBC- ) and mammaglobin (SGC- , SMBC+ ). Comparison of antibodies used for immunohistochemical diagnosis of sebaceous carcinoma (SC) suggests that adipophilin has the highest sensitivity and specificity. Some authors have found that immunostaining for survivin, androgen receptor and ZEB2/SIP1 has prognostic value for ocular SC, but not extraocular SC. In situ SC is rare, especially extraocular SC, but there have been several recent reports that actinic keratosis and Bowen's disease are the source of invasive SC. Finally, based on recent reports, classification of sebaceous neoplasms into three categories is proposed, which are sebaceoma (a benign neoplasm with well-defined architecture and no atypia), borderline sebaceous neoplasm (low-grade SC; an intermediate tumor with well-defined architecture and nuclear atypia) and SC (a malignant tumor with invasive growth and evident nuclear atypia).

Keywords: borderline sebaceous neoplasm; immunohistochemistry; poroid neoplasm; sebaceous tumor; sweat gland tumor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / classification
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / secondary
  • Sweat Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Sweat Gland Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Sweat Glands / metabolism
  • Sweat Glands / pathology*