Salivary glands
Primary salivary gland neoplasms - malignant
Small cell carcinoma

Topic Completed: 1 September 2012

Revised: 13 August 2019

Copyright: 2003-2019,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Small cell carcinoma[TIAB] salivary

Adriana Handra-Luca, M.D.
Page views in 2018: 483
Page views in 2019 to date: 495
Cite this page: Handra-Luca A. Small cell carcinoma. website. Accessed October 22nd, 2019.
Definition / general
Clinical features
  • 2% of parotid gland carcinomas, 4% of minor salivary gland malignancies
  • Usually age 50+ but also < 30 years
  • Either neuroendocrine (Merkel cell or pulmonary varieties) or ductal types (arising from ductal neuroendocrine stem cells, Pathol Int 1999;49:887)
  • 2 and 5 year survival of 70% and 46%
Case reports
  • Chemotherapy, radiotherapy
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Resembles lung tumors with solid areas of small spindled to ovoid cells with minimal cytoplasm, hyperchromatic nuclei with fine chromatin, indistinct nuclei
  • High mitotic activity, geographic necrosis
  • Often a better differentiated carcinoma is present
  • Rarely squamous or ductal differentiation
  • Does not arise from surface epithelium but may involve it secondarily
  • May occur in carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

87 year old woman with longterm survival

Positive stains
Negative stains
Electron microscopy description
  • Variable dense core secretory granules
Differential diagnosis
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