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A Cytohistologic Correlation of Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma: Emphasizing the Rare Oncocytic Variant

Pathology Research International
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Publication Date
DOI: 10.4061/2011/135796
  • Clinical Study
  • Biology
  • Medicine


It is well-known that the morphological variability of mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC) of the salivary glands may lead to interpretative difficulties on fine-needle aspiration (FNA) diagnosis. In this study we identify morphologic features that may be useful in the FNA diagnosis of MEC. The cohort included 23 cases of MEC; cytology and histology slides were reviewed and assessed for % cystic component, extracellular mucin, mucous and intermediate cells, oncocytes, cells with foamy/clear cytoplasm, keratinized cells and lymphocytes. On FNA 12/23 (52%) cases were diagnosed as consistent with or suggestive of MEC; 6/23 (26%) as salivary gland neoplasm and 5/23 (22%) as no tumor seen. The cystic component was ≥50% in 18/23 (78%) and <50% in 5 cases. The features prevalent in FNA and histology were: mucous cells (96% and 91%), extracellular mucin (91% both), intermediate cells (100 and 83%), lymphocytes (96 and 78%) and cells with foamy/clear cytoplasm (74% both). Oncocytes were seen in 43 and 22% and keratinized cells in 48 and 13% cases. Cases with oncocytes and lymphocytes were interpreted as favor Warthin's tumor on FNA. Presence of mucous cells, cells with foamy/clear cytoplasm, intermediate cells and lymphocytes in a mucinous background are diagnostic indicators of MEC; presence of oncocytes should not refrain from diagnosing MEC in FNA specimens.

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