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Warthin Tumor with Signet-Ring Cell Features as a Pitfall in Salivary Gland Cytopathology

Bellevicine C. · Iaccarino A. · Malapelle U. · Troncone G.
Department of Biomorphological and Functional Sciences, University Federico II, Naples, Italy Acta Cytologica 2013;57:309-312 (DOI:10.1159/000348248)


Background: Warthin tumor (WT) is a common parotid lesion reliably diagnosed by fine-needle aspiration (FNA). Worrisome metaplastic changes may occur in WT. Their interpretation as mucoepidermoid carcinoma represents a diagnostic pitfall. Moreover, WT and mucoepidermoid carcinoma may coexist, making this distinction difficult. So it is worthwhile to report unusual WT features. We describe a WT with signet-ring cells (SRCs). Case: A 61-year-old male presenting with a 3.6-cm right parotid gland mass underwent FNA with rapid on-site evaluation. DiffQuik-stained smears showed groups of oncocytic cells with abundant granular cytoplasm in a background rich with debris, foamy macrophages and lymphoid cells. SRCs were observed on Papanicolaou-stained smears prepared from a second pass. A WT with SRC features was diagnosed. Histology revealed a WT with post-FNA infarctual changes. Conclusion: To avoid false-positive diagnoses, the cytopathologist should be aware that SRC features may occur in WT. The concomitant presence of oncocytes and SRCs is useful to correctly diagnose this unusual WT variant.


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