Squamous epithelial changes of the larynx: diagnosis and therapy

Head Neck. 2012 Dec;34(12):1810-6. doi: 10.1002/hed.21862. Epub 2011 Oct 3.


It can be confusing for clinicians to work their way through the tangle of pathologic terms used in surgical pathology reports to describe squamous abnormalities in laryngeal biopsies. After a brief review of the normal microscopic anatomy of the larynx and time-honored clinical designations for surface-based abnormalities, this report sorts pathologic changes into 2 groups: those changes that do not carry a premalignant potential (including squamous metaplasia, squamous hyperplasia, pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia, keratosis, and parakeratosis) and those that do (including dyskeratosis, laryngeal intraepithelial neoplasia [LIN], atypia, dysplasia, and carcinoma in situ). Generally, lesions in the first group do not require additional therapy or close follow-up; lesions in the second group, however, demand either some form of local therapy or close follow-up to monitor for the development of a more aggressive pathology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Larynx / pathology*
  • Metaplasia
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Precancerous Conditions / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Vocal Cords / pathology