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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Mechanisms of cyst formation in metastatic lymph nodes of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Sepideh Mokhtari

Author Affiliations

Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Velenjak street, Tehran, Iran

Diagnostic Pathology 2012, 7:6  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-7-6

Published: 16 January 2012

Abstract

Cystic change in metastatic lymph nodes occurs in certain types of tumors and mostly in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. In the majority of cases, psuedocystic change is the mechanism of cyst formation. However, sometimes a true cyst cavity is formed. This occurrence is unexplained and some theories are introduced to explain it. In this paper, related articles and introduced concepts are reviewed and the best conclusions of present hypotheses are provided. Cystic SCC in cervical lymph node is now considered as a typical presentation of metastatic SCC arising in the oro/nasopharynx. True cystic cavities have eosinophilic fluid content and present active transport mechanism across the epithelium; Cytokeratin7 is also expressed in the lining of these cysts, which is an accepted marker of ductal differentiation. These are all strong evidences that show salivary gland type cells are present among tumor cells. In fact, some squamous cell carcinomas, especially those arising in Waldeyer's ring, originate from minor salivary glands. The other probability is that these tumors are cancers of transitional type and arise from transformed keratinocytes, which have intrinsic property for cyst formation. These malignant cells in lymph nodes, rather than primary sites, found the opportunity to express their parental property.

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Keywords:
cyst; lymph node; metastases; primary tumor; squamous cell carcinoma