Clear cell changes in salivary gland neoplasms: A 20-year retrospective study.

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Clear cells are observed histopathologically in both benign and malignant neoplasms but their presence in salivary gland tumors has not been extensively documented.


With IRB approval, the archive of the University of Florida College of Dentistry oral pathology biopsy service was retrospectively searched from 1994-2014 for all benign and malignant salivary tumors. Epidemiological data, tumor location and duration, and type of tumor were recorded. A four reviewer panel examined the original slides. Reviewers scaled each case as 0 (no clear cells present), 1 (few to focal clear cells), 2 (less than 50% clear cells), and 3 (greater than 50% clear cells).


A total of 535 cases were included of which 48% of tumors displayed 0 clear cells (257/535), 31.4% (168/535) scored 1, 13.6% (73/535) scored 2, and 7% (37/535) scored 3. Of the 251 (47%) malignant neoplasms, 64% (160/251) demonstrated 0-1 clear cell change, while 36% (91/251) showed a score of 2-3. For the total 284 (53%) benign tumors, 93% (265/535) scored 0-1 and 7% (19/535) scored a 2-3 range. No statistical difference was noted for gender, age, or duration of time present in regards to presence or absence of clear cells. Statistically significant differences in clear cell presence were found between location groups, between benign and malignant diagnosis, and between specific diagnostic groups.


This study demonstrates the frequent presence of increased numbers of clear cells in oral salivary malignancies and highlights salivary gland differential diagnoses when presented with clear cell changes.

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