Am J Surg Pathol. 2022 Apr 15. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000001908. Online ahead of print.
Olfactory carcinoma is one of many names applied to sinonasal malignancies with histologic similarity to olfactory neuroblastoma (ONB) but cytokeratin expression or gland formation. It is unclear whether these neuroepithelial tumors represent a unified category and if they are separate from ONB and currently-recognized sinonasal carcinomas. This study aims to explore their clinicopathologic characteristics based on a large collective experience. A total of 53 sinonasal tumors with neuroepithelial differentiation were identified affecting 41 men and 12 women, median age 47 years (range: 12 to 82 y). The vast majority arose in the superior nasal cavity and presented at the high Kadish-Morita stage. Frequent histologic findings included (1) lobulated and solid growth, (2) rosettes and/or neurofibrillary stroma, (3) high-grade cytology, (4) complex, often ciliated glands, (5) nonfocal pancytokeratin expression, (6) neuroendocrine pos+itivity, and (7) variable S100-positive sustentacular cells. Twelve patients with available follow-up (48%) developed progressive disease at a median 8 months (range: 0 to 114 mo to progression), and 7 (28%) died of disease. Despite disparate historical terminology, neuroepithelial differentiation is a recurrent and recognizable histologic pattern that is associated with aggressive behavior in sinonasal tumors. While tumors with this phenotype may originate from olfactory mucosa, well-developed epithelial features warrant separation from conventional ONB and neural elements distinguish them from most sinonasal carcinomas. Although their full histogenesis remains uncertain and some heterogeneity may exist, we propose that this pattern is sufficiently distinctive to merit separate recognition as olfactory carcinoma. Use of consistent nomenclature may facilitate greater recognition of tumors with this phenotype and understanding of their pathogenesis and classification.