Adenoid cystic carcinoma of the breast

Radswiki et al.

Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) of the breast is a rare subtype of breast cancer.

They account for only 0.1-0.4% of all breast cancers.

The tumour demonstrates a strikingly characteristic microscopic pattern similar to that of adenoid cystic carcinoma of the salivary glands. They consist of a mixture of proliferative glandular tissue (an adenoid component) and stromal or basement membrane elements (a pseudoglandular or cylindromatous component). Adenoid cystic carcinomas of the breast display slowly progressive growth and rarely metastasise to the axillary lymph nodes. On pathologic analysis, it is characterized by the presence of mucin within pseudocysts found in the tumour.


Typically tend to appear as developing asymmetric densities or irregular masses.

Breast ultrasound

Can appear as irregular, heterogeneous, or hypoechoic masses with minimal vascularity on colour Doppler imaging.

Breast MRI

There is only limited data available on MR imaging features of adenoid cystic carcinomas of the breast. Described features include moderately hyperintense signal on T2-weighted TSE images, a characteristic that may be attributed to the myxoid stroma and cribriform pattern of the tumour 7.

The overall prognosis can be comparatively better than the usually unspecified breast cancers. Nodal metastases are rare.

It was first described by F W Foote and F W Stewart in 1946 5.

Breast imaging and pathology
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Article Information

rID: 14927
System: Breast
Section: Pathology
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Adenoid cystic carcinoma of breast
  • Adenoid cystic breast cancer
  • ACC of breast
  • ACC breast

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