Sebaceous carcinoma

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Sebaceous carcinoma on the elbow of a dog[1]

Sebaceous carcinoma (epitheliomatous sebaceous carcinoma) are malignant neoplasms of the sweat glands of canine skin.

These lobulated wart-like exophytic skin tumors typically appear associated with sweat glands and are commonly found on the head and neck but also occasionally in the intedigital skin of the limbs.

Older dogs appear more predisposed and a genetic predisposition may exist in certain breeds such as Cocker Spaniel, West Highland White Terrier, Scottish Terrier and Siberian Husky.

Definitive diagnosis requires histological examination of biopsied skin. Immunohistochemical studies of these tumors reveals a signifant loss or reduction of β-catenin membrane labelling[2] and estrogen and progesterone receptors[3], allowing easier differentation from other benign epithelial tumors.

Variants include sebaceous differentiation of mammary carcinoma[4].

A differential would include mast cell tumor, clear cell adnexal carcinoma, balloon cell melanoma, meibomian carcinoma and liposarcoma[5].

Rare metastases to the lung and CNS have been reported[6].

Surgical excision, using wide margins is usually curative in most cases.

The prognosis with metastatic cases is considered poor[7], although adjunct radiation therapy may be considered following histological confirmation and surgical extirpation.


  1. Vet Surgery Central
  2. Bongiovanni L et al (2011) β-catenin in canine skin: immunohistochemical pattern of expression in normal skin and cutaneous epithelial tumours. J Comp Pathol 145(2-3):138-147
  3. Ginel PJ et al (2010) Expression of oestrogen and progesterone receptors in canine sebaceous gland tumours. Vet Dermatol 21(3):297-302
  4. Chang SC et al (2007) Mammary carcinoma with sebaceous differentiation in a dog. Vet Pathol 44(4):525-527
  5. Piviani M et al (2012) Cytologic features of clear cell adnexal carcinoma in 3 dogs. Vet Clin Pathol 41(3):405-411
  6. Bettini G et al (2009) CNS and lung metastasis of sebaceous epithelioma in a dog. Vet Dermatol 20(4):289-294
  7. Varga Z et al (2000) Sebaceous carcinoma of the breast. Pathol Int 50:63–66