Much recent attention has highlighted a subset of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) related to the human papillomavirus (HPV) that is characterized by an epidemiologic, demographic, and clinical profile that deviates from the profile of conventional non-HPV-related HNSCC. Lost in the dash to develop and implement diagnostic assays to detect the presence of HPV in HNSCCs is the unpretentious observation that these HPV-HNSCCs are also distinctive with respect to their microscopic appearance, and that an awareness of these characteristic morphologic features can facilitate the diagnosis of HPV-related HNSCC (HPV-HNSCC). This review will delineate the microscopic appearance of HPV-HNSCC, spotlight ways in which the misinterpretation of these microscopic features can lead to diagnostic confusion, and provide recommendations for appropriate terminology when diagnosing HPV-HNSCC.
- Head and neck cancer
- Human papillomavirus
- Non-keratinizing squamous cell carcinoma
- Reticulated epithelium
- Tumor grade
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine