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Salivary glands

Epithelial / myoepithelial tumors

Canalicular adenoma

Reviewer: Adriana Handra-Luca, M.D. (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 26 January 2013, last major update September 2012
Copyright: (c) 2003-2013, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● Distinct monomorphic adenoma with bilayered strands or ribbons of columnar cells with pure luminal ductal epithelial differentiation and loose, well vascularized stroma (Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1983;56:608, Cancer 1973;31:1511)
● 1% of salivary gland tumors; 4-6% of minor salivary gland tumors (J Oral Pathol Med 2007;36:207)
● 20% of benign minor salivary gland tumors

Clinical features

● Usually arises from minor salivary glands of upper lip or palate (Ann Diagn Pathol 1998;2:224); also parotid gland (Mod Pathol 2002;15:298)
● Female predominance for palate tumors
● Usually ages 50+ years
● Recurrence is uncommon
Symptoms: pain, multifocal swelling or synchronous bilateral tumors, ulceration

Case reports

● 55 year old woman with tumor of upper lip (Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal 2007;12:E1)
● 61 year old man with tumor of upper lip (Bull Tokyo Dent Coll 2004;45:229)
● 78 year old woman with multiple, bilateral tumors with synchronous occurrence (Clin Exp Dermatol 2009;34:e587)


● Excision, radiotherapy

Gross description

● Often encapsulated, 22% multifocal
● Tumor may be received as fragmented specimen

Micro description

● Bilayered strands or ribbons of columnar cells with loose, well vascularized stroma
● Often basaloid cells or trabecular features
● May infiltrate capsule and exhibit extracapsular tumor islands
● Often cystic change, apocrine, mucous or pigmented cells (Histopathology 1999;35:502)

Micro images

Various images

GFAP staining

Figure 1: H&E and calponin-

Figure 1: H&E and calponin-

Positive stains

● S100, AE1/3, CK19, CK7 (Oral Oncol 2001;37:365, Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1994;78:761), EMA, vimentin
● Distinctive linear immunoreactive pattern of GFAP among cells in proximity to connective tissue interface (Head Neck Pathol 2007;1:27)
● Focal GFAP, focal CK8; PCNA

Negative stains

● E-cadherin (Oral Oncol 2009;45:594)
● Myoepithelial markers (alpha smooth muscle actin, smooth muscle myosin heavy chain, calponin, Arch Pathol Lab Med 2000;124:401, Arch Pathol Lab Med 1999;123:801), CK14

Differential diagnosis

Adenocarcinoma NOS
Adenoid cystic carcinoma: destructive infiltration, cribriform pattern, strong muscle markers+
Pleomorphic adenoma
Polymorphous low grade adenocarcinoma: vimentin- (Ann Diagn Pathol 2003;7:278), lack of linear GFAP at the tumor/connective tissue interface

End of Salivary glands > Epithelial / myoepithelial tumors > Canalicular adenoma

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