Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma and nasopharyngeal-type undifferentiated carcinoma: Two clinically, biologically, and histopathologically distinct entities

Yung Ming Jeng, Ming Tse Sung, Chia Lang Fang, Hsuan Ying Huang, Tsui Lien Mao, Wei Cheng, Cheng Hsiang Hsiao

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Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC) is a rare aggressive neoplasm arising in the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. Primary sinonasal nasopharyngeal-type undifferentiated carcinoma (PSNPC) is an even rarer tumor that has not been adequately reported. Both tumors have been reported to be associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). We studied the clinicopathologic features and EBV status of 36 SNUC and 13 PSNPC patients from Taiwan, an EBV endemic area. The median age of SNUC patients was 53 years (range 20-76 years), with a male/female ratio of approximately 2:1. Five patients had histories of previous nasopharyngeal carcinoma treated with irradiation 6-26 years earlier. The most common locations were nasal cavity and ethmoid sinus. Orbital and intracranial invasion and distant metastasis were frequent findings. The median survival was 10 months. All 36 tumors were negative for EBER-1 by in situ hybridization. The median age of PSNPC patients was 58 years (range 36-75 years), with a male/female ratio of approximately 2:1. The most common location is nasal cavity. Eight patients achieved disease-free survival. Eight tumors had the morphology of lymphoepithelioma, whereas significant inflammatory infiltrate was not detected in the other five tumors. All 13 tumors were positive for EBER-1 by in situ hybridization. Because of the difference in the relation with EBV, prognosis, and response to radiotherapy, SNUC and PSNPC should be considered as two entirely different entities. The most important criteria for PSNPC are vesicular nuclei, syncytial pattern, spindle cells, and absence of necrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-376
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002



  • EBER-1
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • In situ hybridization
  • Irradiation
  • Lymphoepithelioma
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • Undifferentiated carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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