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Tissue eosinophilia: a morphologic marker for assessing stromal invasion in laryngeal squamous neoplasms

Mahmoud Said1, Sam Wiseman2, Jun Yang3, Sadir Alrawi4, Wade Douglas4, Richard Cheney5, Wesley Hicks4, Nestor Rigual4, Thom Loree4, Gregory Spiegel6 and Dongfeng Tan57*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, AmeriPath, Orlando, USA

2 Department of Surgery St. Paul's Hospital/University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

3 Department of Cancer Prevention, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, USA

4 Department of Surgery, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, USA

5 Department of Pathology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, USA

6 Department of Histopathology, King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS, UK

7 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas Health Centre at Houston, 6431 Fannin, MSB 2.222, Houston, TX 77030, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Clinical Pathology 2005, 5:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-5-1

Published: 7 January 2005



The assessment of tumor invasion of underlying benign stroma in neoplastic squamous proliferation of the larynx may pose a diagnostic challenge, particularly in small biopsy specimens that are frequently tangentially sectioned. We studied whether thresholds of an eosinophilic response to laryngeal squamous neoplasms provides an adjunctive histologic criterion for determining the presence of invasion.


Eighty-seven(n = 87) cases of invasive squamous cell carcinoma and preinvasive squamous neoplasia were evaluated. In each case, the number of eosinophils per high power field(eosinophils/hpf), and per 10 hpf in the tissue adjacent to the neoplastic epithelium, were counted and tabulated. For statistical purposes, the elevated eosinophils were defined and categorized as: focally and moderately elevated (5–9 eos/hpf), focally and markedly increased(>10/hpf), diffusely and moderately elevated(5–19 eos/10hpf), and diffusely and markedly increased (>20/10hpf).


In the invasive carcinoma, eosinophil counts were elevated focally and /or diffusely, more frequently seen than in non-invasive neoplastic lesions. The increased eosinophil counts, specifically >10hpf, and >20/10hpf, were all statistically significantly associated with stromal invasion. Greater than 10 eosinophils/hpf and/or >20 eosinophils/10hpf had highest predictive power, with a sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value of 82%, 93%, 96% and 80%, 100% and 100%, respectively. Virtually, greater than 20 eosinophils/10 hpf was diagnostic for tumor invasion in our series.


Our study suggests for the first time that the elevated eosinophil count in squamous neoplasia of the larynx is a morphologic feature associated with tumor invasion. When the number of infiltrating eosinophils exceeds 10/hpf and or >20/10 hpf in a laryngeal biopsy with squamous neoplasia, it represents an indicator for the possibility of tumor invasion. Similarly, the presence of eosinophils meeting these thresholds in an excisional specimen should prompt a thorough evaluation for invasiveness, when evidence of invasion is absent, or when invasion is suspected by conventional criteria in the initial sections.