Salivary glands
Epithelial / myoepithelial tumors
Giant cell tumor

Author: Adriana Handra-Luca, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 14 March 2018, last major update September 2012

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PubMed Search: Giant cell tumor salivary

Cite this page: Handra-Luca, A. Giant cell tumor. PathologyOutlines.com website. http://www.pathologyoutlines.com/topic/salivaryglandsgiantcelltumor.html. Accessed July 20th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Very rare salivary gland tumor of evenly distributed osteoclastic giant cells in background of mononuclear cells
  • First reported in 1984 by Eusebi (Am J Clin Pathol 1984;81:666); < 20 cases reported to date
Clinical features
  • Mean age 62 years, range 28 - 92 years; 80% male
  • 87% of salivary gland tumors occur in parotid gland; 13% in submandibular gland
  • Giant cell component may be neoplastic
  • Uncertain histogenesis, may be a carcinoma
  • 50% associated with carcinoma (usually salivary duct carcinoma or carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma / malignant mixed tumor / carcinosarcoma, Ann Diagn Pathol 2009;13:114)
  • 13% die of disease; 48% 5 year survival - more aggressive than giant cell tumor of bone, less aggressive than undifferentiated carcinoma
  • Presents as rapidly enlarging mass, often with lymph node metastases
Treatment
  • Resection of tumor and lymph nodes, radiotherapy
Gross description
  • No peripheral mineralized bone shell
Gross images

Images hosted on other servers:

57 year old man with parotid tumor

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Evenly distributed osteoclastic giant cells in background of mononuclear cells
  • Nuclei differ between mononuclear cells and osteoclastic giant cells, unlike giant cell tumor of bone (Am J Surg Pathol 2004;28:953)
  • Osteoid or mature bone present; either pure or associated with at least focal carcinoma
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

57 year old man with parotid tumor

Cytology description
  • Numerous osteoclast-like multinucleated giant cells and many malignant mononuclear cells (Acta Cytol 2006;50:80)
Cytology images

Images hosted on other servers:

57 year old man with parotid tumor

Positive stains
Electron microscopy description
  • Giant cells are similar to bone osteoclasts
  • Mononuclear cells have numerous microvilli and some cell junctions but few lysosomes
Molecular / cytogenetics description
  • 17p13 LOH (carcinoma and GCT components), 10q23 LOH (carcinoma)