Context.—

High-grade transformation, previously known as dedifferentiation, in salivary gland carcinoma and carcinosarcoma ex pleomorphic adenoma is a rare phenomenon. It is, however, clinically relevant and affects treatment and prognosis.

Objective.—

To review the existing literature, describe the histologic and immunophenotypic features, and highlight the diagnostic criteria of high-grade transformation in various salivary gland carcinomas and carcinosarcoma; to review its effect on clinical presentation and prognosis; and to review relevant molecular characteristics and recent concepts and advances.

Data Sources.—

Literature search in PubMed using key words such as “high-grade transformation,” “dedifferentiation,” and “carcinosarcoma” in salivary gland. Relevant articles were reviewed, and additional articles were curated from the references of these articles.

Conclusions.—

High-grade transformation occurs rarely but has a significant impact on prognosis and management. By microscopy, the high-grade area is usually a distinct nodule and shows solid and nested architecture, cellular atypia, high mitotic count, and necrosis. The molecular features are not well established. Carcinosarcoma almost always arises in a pleomorphic adenoma and likely follows an adenoma-carcinoma-sarcoma pathway.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Competing Interests

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