Curr Diag Pathol 2003 9, 384–396.
Variants of squamous cellcarcinoma (SCC) frequently arise within the mucosa of the upper aerodigestive tract, accounting for up to15% of SCCs in these areas. The most common variants include verrucous, exophytic or papillary, spindle-cell (sarcomatoid), basaloid and adenosquamous carcinoma. Each of these variants has a unique histomorphologic appearance, which raises a number of different differential diagnostic considerations, with the attendant clinically relevant management decision.
Verrucous squamous cell carcinoma has a broad border of pushing infiltration of a non-dysplastic squamous epithelium, essentially devoid of mitotic figures, displaying hyperkeratosis on elongated rete pegs. Papillary and exophytic SCC have a papillary or exophytic architecture, but have malignant cytologic features within the epithelium. Spindle-cell (sarcomatoid) carcinoma is an SCC blended with a spindle-cell morphology, frequently mimicking other mesenchymal tumours. Epithelial markers are often negative. Basaloid SCC is a high-grade SCC variant with small cells arranged in a palisaded architecture, with hyperchromatic nuclei and only focal areas of squamous differentiation. A denosquamous carcinoma is a rare variant, which is a composite of adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, often with areas of transition.The cytomorphologic features are described in detail in an attempt to allow the general surgical pathologist to separate these variants of SCC in order to achieve appropriate clinical management.
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