Skin - Nonmelanocytic tumors
Carcinoma (non-adnexal)
Adenoid (acantholytic) squamous cell carcinoma

Author: Ghassan Tranesh, M.D. (see Authors page)
Editor: Hong Qu, M.D.

Revised: 13 October 2016, last major update November 2014

Copyright: (c) 2002-2016,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Adenoid squamous cell carcinoma [title] skin

Cite this page: Adenoid (acantholytic) squamous cell carcinoma. website. Accessed October 16th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Adenoid squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is an uncommon histopathological variant of SCC characterised by acantholysis of tumor cells, creating pseudolumina and the appearance of glandular differentiation (J Clin Pathol 2006;59:1206)
  • Also called pseudoglandular, pseudoangiosarcomatous, or acantholytic squamous cell carcinoma
  • Does NOT appear to be more aggressive than SCC (Dermatol Surg 2011;37:353)
  • Due to a desmosomal defect that causes lack of cell adhesion (acantholysis)
  • Usually sun-exposed skin, often associated with actinic keratosis with acantholysis
Case reports
Gross description
Gross images

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Excised exophytic polypoid growth

Resected tumor and mandible

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Invasive, tubular or pseudoglandular pattern of polygonal cells in dermis, with glassy eosinophilic cytoplasm and focal squamous pearl formation
  • Usually connected to overlying epidermis (J Cutan Pathol 1989;16:114)
  • Oral tumors may show pseudovascular morphology (J Clin Pathol 2006;59:1206)
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Tubular structures

Pseudoglandular pattern

Carcinoma cells proliferate in cords

Various stains

Cytokeratin+, CD34-

Hyaluronic acid+

Positive stains
Electron microscopy description

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Surface epithelial cells with microvillous processes

No intracytoplasmic vacuoles

Differential diagnosis