Bartholin Gland Carcinoma: Clinicopathologic Features, Including p16 Expression and Clinical Outcome

Int J Gynecol Pathol. 2019 Mar;38(2):189-195. doi: 10.1097/PGP.0000000000000489.


Bartholin gland carcinomas are rare forms of vulvar malignancy and it is unclear what proportion is associated with high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. Our hospital archives were searched for all cases of Bartholin gland carcinoma from 1984 to 2017 (n=16). We excluded 3 adenoid cystic carcinomas, which were the subject of a previous study, leaving 13 cases. We reviewed all slides and performed immunostains for p16 as a surrogate biomarker for high-risk HPV. There were 12 squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), including 1 SCC with transitional-like morphology and 1 papillary SCC, and 1 adenocarcinoma. All SCCs showed diffuse and intense p16 expression consistent with the presence of HPV. The single case of poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma showed patchy staining. Patient age ranged from 38 to 72 yr (mean, 58.3 yr). Most tumors were low stage. All patients were treated with radical vulvectomy and inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy. Mean clinical follow-up was 53.7 mo (range, 3-181 mo), 9 patients were free of disease (75%), recurrence occurred in 3 cases, with death due to disease in 2 of the patients with recurrence, including the single patient with adenocarcinoma. All SCC of Bartholin gland expressed p16 diffusely and intensely regardless of histologic features and grade. Our results support the etiologic role of HPV in the pathogenesis of SCC of Bartholin gland. In this small study we observed SCC as the predominant histotype, and most tumors presented at early stage and were associated with relatively favorable outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / virology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / virology
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / pathology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / virology


  • CDKN2A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16