Squamous intraepithelial neoplasia of the esophagus: past, present, and future

J Gastroenterol. 2009;44(2):103-12. doi: 10.1007/s00535-008-2298-y. Epub 2009 Feb 13.


With regard to the esophagus, the term "squamous dysplasia" has been used in European countries, the United States, and China, while its use is controversial in Japan. Recently, "low-grade intraepithelial neoplasia" and "high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia" have been used as inclusive terms for dysplasia and carcinoma in situ in the World Health Organization classification. Endoscopically, it is often difficult to identify squamous intraepithelial neoplasia by conventional endoscopy, but application of iodine is useful for the diagnosis of such a lesion. In addition, new types of endoscopic techniques, including magnifying endoscopy, narrow-band imaging (NBI), and endocytoscopy are helpful to detect squamous intraepithelial neoplasia. NBI is very useful for identifying the intrapapillary capillary loop pattern. Regarding the pathological criteria of squamous dysplasia and squamous cell carcinoma, the views of Japanese and Western pathologists have differed significantly. Before the term "intraepithelial neoplasia" was introduced, severe dysplasia as diagnosed by Western pathologists was in fact the same as squamous cell carcinoma in situ or noninvasive carcinoma as diagnosed by Japanese pathologists. This problem has been solved by the introduction of the Vienna classification; however, there are still some issues that need to be resolved. One of them is the presence of basal layer type squamous cell carcinoma in situ, which is often underdiagnosed as lowgrade intraepithelial neoplasia by Western pathologists. Endoscopic treatments such as endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic submucosal dissection have recently become possible choices for squamous intraepithelial neoplasia; however, these techniques are not in widespread use in the West. We believe that a consensus meeting between Japanese and Western pathologists as well as endoscopists should be held promptly to reach a common ground for the nomenclature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma in Situ / classification
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / classification
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Endoscopy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / classification
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Terminology as Topic
  • United States