Basaloid squamous cell carcinoma of the sinonasal tract

J A Wieneke, L D Thompson, B M Wenig
Cancer 1999 February 15, 85 (4): 841-54

BACKGROUND: Basaloid squamous cell carcinoma (BSCC) is a high grade, aggressive variant of squamous cell carcinoma with a predilection for the larynx, hypopharynx, tonsils, and base of the tongue. To the authors' knowledge, BSCC originating in the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses rarely has been reported.

METHODS: Fourteen cases of BSCC involving the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses were identified in the files of the Otolaryngic-Head and Neck Pathology Tumor Registry of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology from 1975-1997. Clinical records and follow-up were available in all cases. Paraffin blocks were available for histochemical and immunohistochemical studies in all cases.

RESULTS: There were 7 females and 7 males, ages 32-86 years (median, 66.5 years; mean, 62 years). The patients presented primarily with a mass lesion and unilateral nasal obstruction. In nine patients the tumor was confined to the nasal cavity. In three patients the tumor involved the sinuses alone and in two patients the tumor involved the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. Histologically, the tumors were widely invasive with a variety of growth patterns, including lobular, solid, trabecular, cribriform, and fascicular. The neoplastic infiltrate included predominantly pleomorphic, basaloid-appearing cells with hyperchromatic nuclei, inconspicuous to prominent nucleoli, and a variable amount of eosinophilic to clear-appearing cytoplasm. Mitotic figures, including atypical forms, were readily apparent as was necrosis (individual cell and comedo-type). Foci of squamous differentiation were limited in extent but were found in all cases and included squamous whorls, individual cell keratinization, and intercellular bridges. Intraepithelial dysplasia, carcinoma in situ, or invasive squamous carcinoma was present in all cases. Other histologic features included intercellular stromal hyalinization and peripheral nuclear palisading. In two cases, neural-type rosettes were found. Immunoreactivity for a variety of epithelial markers including cytokeratin (AE1/AE3/LP34), CAM 5.2, 34betaE12, CK7, and epithelial membrane antigen was present in all cases. Variable reactivity was present with vimentin, actins (smooth muscle and muscle specific), neuron specific enolase, S-100 protein, glial fibrillary acidic protein, CK20, carcinoembryonic antigen, Leu7, and Ewing's marker. Chromogranin, synaptophysin, neurofibrillary protein, leukocyte common antigen, HMB-45, desmin, and Epstein-Barr virus latent membrane protein were absent. Surgical resection was the treatment of choice. Eight patients had recurrent or persistent tumor and metastatic disease occurred in five patients. At last follow-up, 7 patients (50%) had died of disease with a median survival of 12 months from the time of diagnosis and 3 patients were alive with disease over periods ranging from 8 months-5 years. Of the 4 remaining patients, 2 were alive without disease at 1 month and 5 years, respectively, 1 patient was lost to follow-up with no evidence of tumor at 3 years, and 1 patient had died of unrelated causes with no evidence of disease.

CONCLUSIONS: Sinonasal BSCC is a histologically distinct variant of squamous cell carcinoma with pathologic features and aggressive biologic behavior similar to BSCC localized to more common mucosal sites of the upper aerodigestive tract.

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