Proceedings of the 2023 North American Society of Head and Neck Pathology Companion Meeting, New Orleans, LA, March 12, 2023: Navigating New Developments in High Grade Sinonasal Neuroendocrine and Neuroectodermal Neoplasms

Head Neck Pathol. 2023 Jun;17(2):299-312. doi: 10.1007/s12105-023-01548-8. Epub 2023 May 15.


Although the definitions of sinonasal neuroendocrine and neuroectodermal neoplasms did not change substantially in the 5th edition WHO Classification of Head and Neck Tumours, the diagnosis of olfactory neuroblastoma (ONB), small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma, and large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma remains quite challenging in practice. Ambiguities surrounding the amount of keratin expression allowable in ONB and the amount of neuroendocrine differentiation seen in sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC) lead to significant diagnostic discrepancies at the high grade end of this tumor spectrum. Furthermore, a group of problematic neuroepithelial tumors that show overlapping features of ONB and neuroendocrine carcinoma have never been recognized in formal classification schemes. Since publication of the 5th edition WHO, two new tumor entities have been proposed that help resolve these problems. Olfactory carcinoma is defined by high grade keratin-positive neuroectodermal cells with frequent intermixed glands and shows recurrent Wnt pathway, ARID1A, and RUNX1 alterations. IDH2-mutant sinonasal carcinoma is a molecularly-defined category that encompasses tumors with undifferentiated (SNUC), large cell neuroendocrine, and neuroepithelial phenotypes. This review will provide a practical overview of these emerging entities and their application to diagnostic challenges in the post-WHO sinonasal neuroendocrine and neuroectodermal tumor classification.

Keywords: IDH2-mutant sinonasal carcinoma; Immunohistochemistry; Molecular diagnostics; Nasal neoplasms; Neuroendocrine carcinoma; Olfactory carcinoma; Olfactory neuroblastoma; Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine* / pathology
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma, Olfactory* / diagnosis
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma, Olfactory* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Keratins
  • Maxillary Sinus Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Nasal Cavity / pathology
  • New Orleans
  • Nose Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Keratins

Supplementary concepts

  • Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma