Sinonasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma: An Aggressive Neoplasm Derived from Schneiderian Epithelium and Distinct from Olfactory Neuroblastoma

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Abstract

Eight cases of a highly aggressive undifferentiated carcinoma of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses are described. The patients, who ranged in age from 30-77 years, had multiple sinonasal symptoms, and each had involvement of the nasal cavity, maxillary antrum, and ethmoid sinus. Six tumors extended into the orbital bones, and five penetrated the cranial cavity. Five patients died of disease from 1 to 41 months after diagnosis (median: 4 months), and three are alive with tumor less than 1 year following diagnosis. Microscopically, the neoplasms formed nests, trabeculae, and sheets containing medium-sized cells with small to moderate amounts of eosinophilic cytoplasm. A high mitotic rate, tumor necrosis, and prominent vascular permeation were characteristic. Seven neoplasms were immunoreactive for cytokeratin, five for epithelial membrane antigen, and four for neuron-specific enolase. Ultrastructurally, occasional small desmosomes and rare membrane-bound, dense-core granules were observed. Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma is a distinctive clinicopathologic entity that must be distinguished from other, less aggressive sinonasal neoplasms.

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