Secretory carcinoma: the eastern Canadian experience and literature review

J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018 Nov 16;47(1):69. doi: 10.1186/s40463-018-0315-6.


Background: Secretory Carcinoma (SC) is a recently described malignancy affecting salivary glands of the head and neck, with a paucity of evidence regarding the natural history, morbidity, and mortality. This study aimed to investigate the current treatment options utilized for SC, as well as its presentation and outcomes.

Methods: This study is a retrospective case series and includes patients diagnosed with SC at four Maritime Canadian institutions. Literature review of patient outcomes following treatment of SC is also included.

Results: Thirteen patients were identified. Parotid was the most common subsite (69%), followed by minor salivary gland (23%) and submandibular gland (8%). All patients were S100 positive and had at least one additional positive confirmatory stain, including mammaglobin, CK7, or vimentin. Two patients had N2b disease. All patients were treated with primary surgery, and four were offered adjuvant radiotherapy. There was one instance of locoregional recurrence, and one of metastasis. Three patients displayed perineural invasion on pathology, and one patient displayed lymphovascular invasion.

Conclusion: Secretory Carcinoma remains understudied regarding its natural history, presentation, and treatment options. This study is the largest single case series in Canada, and highlights the young age and possible aggressiveness of SC. As well, we provide the most comprehensive literature review to date, with a focus on treatment and outcomes for this disease entity.

Keywords: Canada; Diagnostics; ETV6-NTRK3 mutation; Salivary gland; Secretory carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Carcinoma / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nova Scotia
  • Parotid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Parotid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Parotid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / therapy
  • Survival Analysis

Supplementary concepts

  • Secretory breast carcinoma