Adenoid cystic carcinoma

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

Revised: 14 November 2017, last major update October 2012

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

PubMed Search: Adenoid cystic carcinoma trachea [title] "loattrfree full text"[sb]

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Cite this page: Handra-Luca, A. Adenoid cystic carcinoma. website. Accessed March 25th, 2019.
Definition / general
  • #2 most common primary malignancy of trachea after squamous cell carcinoma
  • Resembles salivary gland tumor
Clinical features
  • Usually in upper third of trachea
  • Intramural (15%) or extramural (85%)
  • Symptoms: dry cough, dyspnea, hemoptysis
  • May coexist with main bronchus lesion
  • 20% invade locally (including thyroid gland); may metastasize to lymph nodes, nasal cavity, liver
  • Lengthy clinical course but poor long term prognosis due to late local recurrences
  • Median overall survival 18 years, median disease free survival 10 years
  • 75% survival rate if complete resection
  • Predictors of survival: margin status, extramural disease, perineural invasion, lymph node metastases (Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 2010;37:1438, Ai Zheng 2004;23:581
Case reports
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Cribriform growth pattern of nests of tumor cells with discrete, rounded, "punched out" gland-like spaces filled with eosinophilic or basophilic material
  • Infiltrative, perineural invasion common
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Uniform hyperchromatic basaloid
cells surrounding acellular
spaces containing mucoid
and hyaline material

Tubular structures
with microcysts
surrounding hyalinized

Cytology description
Cytology images

Images hosted on other servers:

Spherical globules of basement membrane
material and hyperchromatic uniform rounded
tumor cells with scanty cytoplasm
(May-Grünwald Giemsa stain)

Positive stains
Differential diagnosis
  • Thyroid tumor
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