Background. Germ-cell tumors (GCT) are a histologically and biologically diverse group of neoplasms which primarily occur in the gonads but also develop at different extragonadal sites in the midline of the body. The head and neck region including the upper respiratory tract is a very rare location for such tumors in both children and adults, which can cause diagnostic and therapeutic difficulties. Methods. We describe here two new cases of multilineage tumors including sinonasal teratocarcinosarcoma [SNTCS], and congenital oronasopharyngeal teratoma (epignathus) and compare their features with those of a new case of a rare salivary gland anlage tumor [SGAT], an entity for which the pathogenesis is unclear (i.e. hamartoma versus neoplasm). We correlate their presenting clinico-pathological features and compare histologic and cytogenetic features in an attempt to elucidate their pathogenesis and biologic potentials. Results and discussion. Cytogenetic analysis revealed chromosomal abnormalities only in the case of SNTCS that showed trisomy 12 and 1p deletion. Both cytogenetic abnormalities are characteristically present in malignant germ cell tumors providing for the first time evidence that this rare tumor type indeed might represent a variant of a germ cell neoplasm. The SGAT and epignathus carried no such cytogenetic abnormalities, in keeping with their limited and benign biologic potential. Conclusion. The comparison of these three cases should serve to emphasize the diversity of multilineage tumors (hamartomas and GCT) of the upper respiratory tract in regards to their biology, age of presentation and clinical outcomes. Malignant tumors of germ cell origins are more likely to affect adults with insidious symptom development, while benign tumors can nevertheless cause dramatic clinical symptoms which, under certain circumstances, can be fatal.
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