Breast malignant, males, children
Carcinoma subtypes
Adenoid cystic carcinoma

Author: Monika Roychowdhury, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 17 February 2017, last major update March 2012

Copyright: (c) 2002-2017,, Inc.

PubMed search: Adenoid cystic carcinoma [title] breast

Related topics: Solid variant
Cite this page: Adenoid cystic carcinoma. website. Accessed July 16th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Rare, 0.1% of breast carcinomas (Am J Surg 2002;183:646)
  • Mean age 50 - 63 years, range 25 - 80 years
  • 50% are subperiareolar
Prognostic factors
Treatment and prognosis:
  • Good to excellent prognosis (Breast Cancer Res Treat 2004;87:225)
  • Recurs or metastasizes less than usual ductal carcinoma
  • High rates of positive margins (Am J Clin Oncol 2010;33:28)
  • Axillary nodal metastases are rare
  • Treatment is excision with clear margins, possibly radiation, axillary dissection may not be necessary
  • Prognosis better than that of adenoid cystic carcinoma of other localizations (Breast 2012;21:124)
  • Existence of a dedifferentiated component of higher malignancy grade worsens the prognosis (Mod Pathol 2003;16:1265)
Case reports
Clinical images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

Mammogram - courtesy of Dr. Mark R. Wick

Gross description
  • 1 - 3 cm, well circumscribed, firm
  • May have cystic cut surface
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Identical to salivary gland counterpart; has cribriform, solid, trabecular or basaloid patterns
  • Two types of cavities and two types of cells: (1) true glandular lumina lined by ductal epithelium (EMA+, keratin+) and (2) eosinophilic "cylinders" with basement membrane material lined by basal / myoepithelial type cells (vimentin+)
  • Microscopic infiltration and perineural invasion are common
  • May have sebaceous differentiation (Arch Pathol Lab Med 1986;110:1045)
Microscopic (histologic) images
Scroll to see all images.

Images hosted on PathOut server:

Courtesy of Dr. Mark R. Wick

AFIP Third Series:

Tumor nodule, central cysts and invasive elements above

13 y / o boy with classic invasive growth pattern

Primarily cylindromatous
component and
rare glands (arrow)

Case of the Week #271:

61 year old woman with a mammographic left breast mass

61 year old woman with a mammographic left breast mass

Images hosted on other servers:

Solid, cribriform, tubular and trabecular patterns

Cribriform, H&E

CK5 / 6 and
CK8 / 18

H&E and stains

Various images

Smooth muscle actin+

CK5 / 6,
CK 8 / 18
and p63

c-kit / CD117+

H&E and stains, comparison with collagenous spherulosis

C-kit comparison with collagenous spherulosis


Cytology description
  • Clusters of epithelial cells oriented around solid spheres of basement membrane material
Cytology images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

FNAB - courtesy of Dr. Mark R. Wick

Images hosted on other servers:

Various images

Monomorphic tumor cells around mucoid material

Positive stains
Negative stains
Molecular / cytogenetics description
  • MYB-NFIB fusion gene (t(6;9)(q22-23;p23-24)) has been found in adenoid cystic carcinomas of breast (J Pathol 2012;226:84), making them a genomically distinct subgroup of triple negative breast cancer
Differential diagnosis