Head and Neck Pathology

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 1–8 | Cite as

Neuroendocrine Carcinomas of the Larynx and Head and Neck: Challenges in Classification and Grading

  • Bayardo Perez-Ordoñez
Proceedings of The North American Society of Head and Neck Pathology Companion Meeting, March 18, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Primary neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) of the larynx and head and neck are an uncommon and heterogeneous group of neoplasms categorized by the 2017 WHO Classification of Head and Neck Tumors as: (a) well-differentiated (WD-NEC), (b) moderately-differentiated (MD-NEC), and (c) poorly-differentiated (PD-NEC) with small cell and large cell types. The classification incorporates elements of differentiation and grading and closely correlates to the 5-year disease specific survival of 100, 52.8, 19.3 and 15.3% for each diagnostic category. These survival rates are based on historical data limited by the previous lack of standard pathologic diagnostic criteria. The classification has de-emphasized the use of the terms “carcinoid” and “atypical carcinoid” as diagnostic categories. The adoption of uniform pathologic criteria for the classification of NECs of the head and neck should enable the design of high quality studies in order to understand the molecular alterations of these neoplasms.


Neuroendocrine carcinoma Carcinoid tumor Atypical carcinoid tumor Large cell carcinoma Small cell carcinoma Head and neck Larynx 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article is a review of published literature and does not contain any specific intervention or investigation of human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomic PathologyUniversity Health Network, Toronto General HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Laboratory Medicine and PathobiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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