Nonsalivary primary adenocarcinomas of the base of tongue (PABOTs) are extremely rare and worth reporting.


To study the detailed clinicopathologic features of PABOT.


Cases of PABOT diagnosed on pathology material were retrieved from the archived electronic surgical pathology records.


Six cases in 4 men and 2 women (M:F ratio, 2:1), with an age range of 31 to 76 years, satisfied the criteria. The tumor epicenter was the base of tongue in all (6 of 6; 100%), with extension to the epiglottis in 50% (3 of 6), nodal metastasis in 66.7% (4 of 6), and distant metastasis in 33.3% (2 of 6). On histology, all but one were pure adenocarcinoma. Five of 6 cases (83.3%) had a gastrointestinal (GI) phenotype, of which 2 (40%) had a colonic/lower-GI–type (small groups of cells floating in mucin, CK20+, SATB2+, and CDX2+) and 3 (60%) had an upper-GI–like adenocarcinoma (UGI-LA; malignant glands with intracellular mucin, CK7+) histology. Cystic structure suggestive of teratomatous origin was identified in 2 of 5 cases (40%), both with UGI-LA phenotype. The non–GI-type case had a unique histology with squamous differentiation in addition to adenocarcinoma areas, diffuse nuclear β-catenin on immunohistochemistry, and a corresponding exon 3 CTNNB1 mutation. One patient succumbed to disease, and 4 are alive with disease (follow-up of 1–9 months after completion of therapy).


We suggest using the broad term primary adenocarcinomas of the base of tongue (PABOTs), which can be further subdivided into colonic-type adenocarcinoma of the tongue and oral cavity, UGI-LA, and not otherwise specified categories, and reiterate a need for recognition and distinction of PABOT from salivary gland tumors. A subset originates from teratoid/duplication cysts, necessitating extensive sampling. Multicentric studies are essential to clinically and biologically prognosticate each of these categories.

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Author notes

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

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Yadav and Mittal contributed equally toward this research work and writing the manuscript and share first authorship.

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