Atypical squamous epithelium in cytologic specimens from the pancreas: Cytological differential diagnosis and clinical implications

Lester J. Layfield, Harvey Cramer, John Madden, Evelyn V. Gopez, Katharine Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


Atypical squamous epithelium is an uncommon finding in cytologic specimens obtained from pancreatic lesions. A variety of pathologic conditions can result in the presence of these cells, including primary or metastatic carcinomas, chronic pancreatitis, and squamous metaplasia related to pancreatic or biliary duct stent placement. Primary adenosquamous and squamous-cell carcinomas of the pancreas are rare, representing 3.4% and 1.4 % of pancreatic carcinomas, respectively. Cytologic separation of these malignancies from less ominous metaplasias has immense clinical importance. We reviewed Indiana University Hospital's and Duke University's experiences with atypical squamous epithelium occurring within pancreatic aspirates. Study cases were identified using a computer to search the cytology records of these two institutions. Nine cases with a diagnosis of squamous-cell carcinoma, adenosquamous carcinoma, or atypical squamous epithelium were retrieved from the two institutions' Department of Pathology files. One case of pure squamous-cell carcinoma occurred in a patient with a known pulmonary primary; a single case of adenosquamous carcinoma was diagnosed in a patient with a coexistent endometrial primary; a single sample of adenocarcinoma with squamous differentiation was diagnosed in a patient without other known disease; and four primary squamous-cell carcinomas of the pancreas were detected. In addition, a single case of atypical squamous metaplasia associated with a stent was identified, and one case of atypical squamous epithelium associated with chronic pancreatitis was diagnosed. Despite the reactive atypia present in the examples of metaplastic squamous epithelium, separation of these cases from true squamous-cell carcinoma and adenosquamous carcinoma was achievable by cytologic evaluation. No cytologic criteria aided in separating primary pancreatic carcinomas with squamous differentiation from metastatic lesions. In this study, we report our findings in a series of nine cases where cytology disclosed atypical squamous epithelium in the aspirates derived from pancreatic lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-42
Number of pages5
JournalDiagnostic Cytopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 19 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

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