To address questions about the etiology, behavior, optimal treatment, and prognosis of metastasizing pleomorphic adenoma (MPA), we undertook a review of the literature (1953-2005) and constructed a virtual series of all identified cases of MPA, metastatic lesions that are very occasionally identified in patients with a history of pleomorphic salivary adenoma and, on detailed pathological evaluation, found to exhibit all the histological hallmarks of the preceding benign lesions.
A review of the English-language literature between 1953 and 2005 using MEDLINE, secondary references identified from bibliographies of pertinent articles, and a further case from one of our institutions.
A virtual case series was constructed and quantitatively analyzed. Forty-two patients with an average age of 33 years were identified. There were 20 male and 22 female patients. There was an overwhelming history of incomplete surgery for pleomorphic salivary adenoma. Most patients had locoregional recurrences before metastasis, and the mean presentation-to-metastasis latency was 16 years. Bone was the most common site for metastases (45%), followed by the head and neck (43%) and lung (36%). There was significant morbidity and mortality from distant disease, with 5-year disease-specific and disease-free survival of 58% and 50%, respectively. Developing distant lesions within 10 years of the primary tumor and presence of metastases in multiple sites were independent predictors of survival on Cox regression analysis. Metastasectomy conferred significant survival advantage over nonoperative treatment (log-rank analysis, P<.02). Chemotherapy and radiotherapy were of limited value.
Meticulous surgery is crucial in preventing MPA. Metastatic disease carries significant morbidity and mortality and should be treated surgically when feasible.