Open Access

A case of adenoid cystic carcinoma of the esophagus

  • Genta Sawada1Email author,
  • Jeongho Moon1,
  • Akihisa Saito2,
  • Kazuki Odagiri1,
  • Yuri Kimura1,
  • Gen Takahashi1,
  • Shinya Yamashita1,
  • Masashi Inoue1,
  • Toshimitu Irei1,
  • Shin Nakahira1,
  • Yosuke Shimizu1,
  • Harumi Tominaga1,
  • Kazuya Kuraoka2,
  • Kiyomi Taniyama3 and
  • Nobutaka Hatanaka1Email author
Surgical Case Reports20151:119

https://doi.org/10.1186/s40792-015-0122-5

Received: 17 September 2015

Accepted: 24 November 2015

Published: 27 November 2015

Abstract

Esophageal adenoid cystic carcinoma (EACC) is a very rare form of malignant tumor in the esophagus. Here, we report the case of a 78-year-old man who was diagnosed with EACC by preoperative endoscopic biopsy. Thoracoscopy-assisted subtotal esophagectomy with lymph node dissection was carried out. Microscopic examination of the resected specimen suggested that the tumor invaded to submucosal layer and showed no lymph node metastasis. Histologically, tumor primarily exhibited an alveolar solid pattern with partial cribriform and tubular patterns. Alcian blue staining showed many mucoid materials within the glandular cavity formed by tumor cells. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that the tumor cells reacted with pan-cytokeratin immunostains and expressed vimentin and S-100 protein. Collectively, the tumor was diagnosed as primary EACC, T1bN0M0 according to “Japanese Classification of Esophageal Cancer 10th edition.” The patient showed no recurrence sign 12 months after the surgery.

The current study also reviewed 35 EACC cases reported in Japanese literatures from 1990 to 2014. Combined with our case, we found that EACC is less frequently accompanied by lymph node metastasis as compared to esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, especially at the early stage. The prognosis of EACC is relatively better when tumors have no lymph node metastasis.

Keywords

Adenoid cystic carcinoma Esophageal cancer

Background

Esophageal adenoid cystic carcinoma (EACC) is a rare form of malignant tumor in the esophagus while relatively common in the parotid and salivary glands [1, 2]. Histologically, tumors are well known to consist of two main cell types: ductal and modified myoepithelial cells, and have three defined patterns: tubular, cribriform, and solid pattern. Characteristically, EACC is sometimes accompanied by squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basaloid squamous cell carcinoma (BSC) components, which can create different malignancy as adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) of the parotid and salivary glands. In contrast to these histological features, little information is available on clinical features and management because the number of case reports on EACC is limited. With regard to the prognosis, previous studies demonstrated conflicting findings: Some studies explained that, as compared to SCC, frequent lymph node metastasis and vascular invasion provided patients with poor prognosis [3, 4]. On the other hand, other studies recently reported that lymph node metastasis occurred less frequently at the early stage and prognosis was better than that of SCC. Ishii et al. reported that the average overall survival of EACC was 25 months when the tumor had no mixture of SCC or BSC component [5].

Here, we report a case of primary EACC without metastasis that underwent thoracoscopy-assisted subtotal esophagectomy with lymph node dissection. In addition, to disclose the clinical features and resolve conflicting results, we presented a summary of 35 cases of EACC reported from 1990 to 2014 in Japanese literatures.

Case presentation

A 78-year-old man was admitted for the treatment of gastric ulcer in our hospital. He was a heavy smoker without habitual drinking, and presented no lymphadenopathy in the cervical or supraclavicular regions. Laboratory examination suggested no remarkable findings, and his serum levels of carcinoembryonic antigen, carbohydrate antigen 19-9, and squamous cell carcinoma related antigen were 0.8 ng/ml, 9.0 U/ml, and 1.6 ng/ml, respectively.

Endoscopic survey for the follow-up of gastric ulcer revealed a protruding lesion with smooth surface and central excavation located in the middle of the esophagus (Fig. 1a). Iodine stain showed unambiguous lightly stained region (Fig. 1b), which suggested that the tumor was covered by normal esophageal mucosa. Irregular patterns of intra-epithelial papillary capillary loops were found by narrow-band imaging (Fig. 1c), and lesions with mixed echogenicity in the submucosal layer were detected by endoscopic ultrasonography (Fig. 1d). Although the results of ordinary biopsy suggested chronic esophagitis in the mucosa, a boring biopsy at the following endoscopic survey allowed us to observe a mixture of cribriform and solid patterns in the tumor component, which strongly indicated ACC in the esophagus. Computer tomography could not detect any primary lesion in the esophagus and found no lymph node or distant metastasis. Therefore, under the diagnosis of primary EACC without metastasis, a thoracoscopy-assisted subtotal esophagectomy with lymph node dissection was carried out, followed by posterior mediastinal gastroesophagostomy. The resected tissue specimen showed a non-encapsulated solid mass with slight erosion, measuring 1.0 × 0.7 cm in size (Fig. 2a). The cut surface of the tumor demonstrated a solid mass gray-white appearance mainly located in the submucosal layer (Fig. 2b). Microscopic examination found no tumor invasion to the proper muscle layer without lymph node metastasis (pT1bN0M0 stage I according to “Japanese Classification of Esophageal Cancer 10th edition”). An alveolar solid pattern was predominantly shown (Fig. 3a) while cribriform and tubular patterns were partially identifiable in the lesion (Fig. 3b). Intraluminal substance in the tubular pattern regions was stained with alcian blue and periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) (Fig. 3c, d), which indicated that the component contained basophilic glycosaminoglycans and hyalinized basal lamina material. Immunohistochemistry revealed that the tumor cells reacted with pan-cytokeratin immunostains (Fig. 3e) and expressed vimentin and S-100 protein (Fig. 3f, g), collectively supporting the pathological diagnosis of primary EACC. The patient was discharged 63 days after operation, and no sign of recurrence was detected in the 12 months of follow-up.
Fig. 1

Endoscopic findings. a Protruding lesion located in the middle of the esophagus. b The tumor region was faintly stained with iodine. c Narrow-band imaging of the lesion suggested irregularity of intraepithelial papillary capillary loops. d Endoscopic ultrasonography detected a mixed echogenic lesion in the submucosal layer

Fig. 2

Resected tissue specimen. a The solid mass measuring 1.0 × 0.7 cm in size. b Solid mass with graywhite appearance locating mainly in the submucosal layer was found on the cut surface of the tumor

Fig. 3

Histological examination. a, b Microscopic examinations showed alveolar solid and cribriform patterns in the resected specimen (hematoxylin and eosin staining ×40, 200). c PAS and d Alcian blue staining of intraluminal substance in the tubular pattern region (×100). eg Immunohistochemical staining with e cytokeratin, f vimentin, and g S-100 protein (×100)

Discussion

The incidence of EACC was identified with 0.04 % (1 of 2370 cases) and 0.16 % (4 of 2521 cases) of esophageal malignant tumors by Igaki et al. [6]. and Hosokawa et al. [7], respectively. Using Japan Medical Abstracts Society (http://login.jamas.or.jp/) to search with the keywords “esophagus” and “adenoid cystic carcinoma”, we found 35 case reports on EACC from 1990 to 2014 (hereafter, a combination of these cases and our case are referred to as the reviewed cases) (Table 1). The average age of the reviewed cases was 66.4 years, and the sex ratio was 30 men to 6 women. The most prevalent tumor appearance in the endoscopic findings was protruded (58.6 %), and the second was ulcerative (24.1 %). This was consistent with previous reports which concluded that EACC was derived from esophageal glands, as the tumor was usually covered by normal mucosa at the early stage and ulceration was subsequently exhibited as the tumor progressed [8, 9].
Table 1

Clinical factors of the current case and 35 reviewed cases of EACC reported in Japan from 1990 to 2014

Year

Age/sex

Endoscopic appearance

Biopsy

Treatment

Depth of invasion

Lymph node metastasis

Lymphatic invasion

Vascular invasion

Observation period (month)

Outcome (cause of death)

Present

78/M

Protruding

ACC

Surgery

SM

2

Alive

1995

74/M

Elevated

ACC

Surgery

SM

+

+

12

Alive

1991

70/M

Protruding

ACC

Surgery

SM

+

N.A

N.A

1995

59/M

Protruding

ACC

Surgery

SM

13

Alive

2011

67/F

Protruding

ACC

Surgery

SM

N.A

N.A

2012

64/M

Protruding

ACC

Surgery

SM

N.A

N.A

2005

81/M

N.A

N.A

Surgery

SM

N.A

N.A

69

Dead (other disease)

2005

69//M

N.A

N.A

Surgery

SM

N.A

N.A

51

Alive

1997

53/M

Elevated

SCC

Surgery

SM

+

+

36

Alive

1994

81/M

Ulcerative

SCC

Surgery

SM

26

Alive

2001

71/M

Protruding

SCC

Surgery

SM

41

Alive

2010

60/M

Protruding

SCC

NAC + surgery

SM

5

Alive

1997

81/M

N.A

N.A

Surgery

SM

22

Alive

2003

65/M

Protruding

N.A

Surgery

SM

+

4

Dead (other disease)

1990

74/M

Protruding

SCC

Surgery

SM

30

Alive

1992

70/F

Protruding

N.A

Surgery

SM

142

Alive

1990

69/M

Protruding

SCC

Surgery

SM

6

Alive

1990

73/M

Protruding

SCC

Surgery

SM

18

Alive

1998

48/F

Ulcerative

ACC

Surgery

MP

+

+

+

36

Alive

1996

57/M

N.A

N.A

Chemotherapy + surgery

MP

+

+

56

Alive

2005

68/M

N.A

N.A

Surgery

MP

N.A

N.A

2

Alive

1994

59/M

Elevated

SCC

Surgery

MP

+

60

Alive

1991

64/M

Ulcerative

SCC

Surgery

MP

11

Alive

1992

59/M

Ulcerative

SCC

Surgery

MP

+

42

Alive

1996

79/M

Protruding

Adeno

Surgery

MP

N.A

N.A

30

Alive

1994

61/M

Ulcerative

ACC

Surgery

AD

N.A

+

12

Dead (EACC)

2007

51/M

Ulcerative

ACC

Surgery

AD

+

2

Alive

1994

71/M

Protruding

ACC

Surgery

AD

+

+

+

5

Dead (other disease)

2005

41/M

N.A

N.A

Radiation

AD

-

N.A

N.A

22

Dead (EACC)

1991

57/M

Elevated

SCC

Surgery

AD

+

N.A

N.A

N.A

N.A

1996

68/F

Protruding

SCC

Surgery

AD

N.A

N.A

N.A

N.A

1992

64/M

Elevated

N.A

Surgery

AD

+

+

15

Dead (EACC)

1993

77/F

Protruding

ACC

Chemotherapy

AI (aorta)

+

N.A

N.A

9

Dead (EACC)

1992

55/M

Ulcerative

SCC

Surgery

AI (trachea)

+

+

+

7

Dead (EACC)

2005

84/M

N.A

N.A

Surgery

AI

+

N.A

N.A

40

Alive

1997

70/F

Protruding

SCC

Surgery

N.A

+

N.A

N.A

30

Dead (other disease)

N.A not available, adeno adenocarcinoma, NAC neoadjuvant therapy, SM submucosa, MP muscle, AD adventitia, AI invasion to adjacent organ

For preoperative diagnosis of EACC, it has so far been reported that endoscopic biopsy frequently failed to provide a correct diagnosis of EACC because of its similar growth pattern like submucosal tumor. In addition, accurate diagnosis may be more challenging when EACC contained SCC or BSC components [10]. Morisaki et al. reported that only 8 of 37 cases (21.4 %) in and before 1996 were accurately diagnosed as EACC with endoscopic biopsy specimens [11]. In the reviewed cases, correct diagnosis was shown in 11 of 26 cases (43.2 %) (diagnosis with biopsy specimen was available for 26 of 36 cases). These results indicated an improvement in diagnosis accuracy, which was probably made possible by the development of endoscopic devices such as boring biopsy and narrow-band imaging system. Another factor is the establishment of useful markers such as vimentin and S-100, which help to differentiate EACC from BSC diagnosis [12, 13].

The average overall survival of the reviewed cases was 27.6 months following clinical diagnosis. At the time of report, 22 cases were alive while 5 cases died of the EACC (Table 1). Half of the reviewed cases showed tumor invasion to the submucosal layer, indicating the advancement of early EACC detection. Moreover, out of 25 cases with the tumor invading to the submucosal layer or muscularis propria, only one case showed lymph node metastasis and no subjects died of the EACC. These results suggested that early detection of the tumor provides patients with the possibility of a complete cure. For treatment, radical resection with regional lymph node dissection is considered to be the first option, since a susceptibility for chemotherapy and radiation therapy still remains elusive [1416]. In the reviewed cases, 34 cases underwent radical resection, of which one had neoadjuvant chemotherapy consisting of low-dose CDDP and 5-FU, and another one was treated with intensive repeated combination chemotherapy with CDDP and 5-FU for 1.3 years before surgery. We found only one case that underwent combination chemotherapy with etoposide and tegafur for the treatment of liver metastasis of EACC. Intriguingly, there was a case without metastasis that received radiation therapy alone and subsequently survived for 22 months.

In the current case, we were able to apply thoracoscopy-assisted surgery to this patient because the depth of tumor invasion was diagnosed as submucosa before the surgery. Concomitant with other reviewed cases, our case showed no lymph node metastasis. We hence expected that the subsequent prognosis of this patient may be good.

Conclusions

Although the number of the reviewed cases who are observed in a long period is limited, we considered that prognosis of EACC is relatively better if the tumor is detected with no lymph node metastasis. The incidence of lymph node metastasis of EACC is less frequent as compared to that of SCC, especially when the tumor invades to the submucosal layer or muscularis propria. Therefore, less invasive surgery such as thoracoscopic surgery may be suitable for EACC at the early stage. Moreover, previous study reported that a case with EACC in submucosa was successfully treated by incisional endoscopic enucleation [17]. For applying the endoscopic treatment practically, we need large scale study on EACC to make a sufficient evaluation for the probability of lymph node metastasis as well as lymphatic and vascular invasion.

Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from the patient for publication of this Case Report and any accompanying images. A copy of the written consent is available for review by the Editor-in-Chief of this journal.

Abbreviations

ACC: 

adenoid cystic carcinoma

BSC: 

basaloid squamous cell carcinoma

EACC: 

esophageal adenoid cystic carcinoma

SCC: 

squamous cell carcinoma

Declarations

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Surgery, National Hospital Organization, Kure Medical Center, Chugoku Cancer Center
(2)
Department of Diagnostic Pathology, National Hospital Organization, Kure Medical Center, Chugoku Cancer Center
(3)
National Hospital Organization, Kure Medical Center, Chugoku Cancer Center

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Copyright

© Sawada et al. 2015