Superficial squamous cell carcinoma

Topic Completed: 1 March 2014

Revised: 17 September 2019

Copyright: 2003-2019,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Superficial squamous cell carcinoma[TIAB] esophagus

Elliot Weisenberg, M.D.
Page views in 2019: 496
Page views in 2020 to date: 130
Cite this page: Weisenberg E. Superficial squamous cell carcinoma. website. Accessed April 1st, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Squamous cell carcinoma confined to the mucosa (T1a) or submucosa (T1b), regardless of lymph node status
  • Sometimes referred to as early squamous cell carcinoma, especially in Japanese and Chinese literature
  • In Japan, 10 - 20% of resection specimens for squamous cell carcinoma, much less common in North America and Europe
Sites, pathophysiology and etiology
Clinical features
  • Lesions mostly asymptomatic, found during endoscopy
  • Patients may also harbor squamous cell carcinoma of lung or upper aerodigestive tract
  • Lesions may be difficult to find endoscopically; negative Lugol iodine staining may enhance detection
Radiology images

Images hosted on other servers:

Two smooth round defects

Prognostic factors
  • Presence of lymph node metastasis is a poor prognostic factor
  • T1N0 disease is stage IA with 5 year survival ~ 70% (AJCC)
  • T1N1 disease is stage IIB with 5 year survival ~ 40% (AJCC)
Case reports
Clinical images

Images hosted on other servers:

Polypoid lesion with a partially irregular surface

Esophageal neoplasm

Gross description
  • Japan Esophageal Society classification:
    • 0 - I: (protruding type) polypoid or plaque-like
    • 0 - IIa: slightly elevated
    • 0 - IIb: flat
    • 0 - IIc: slightly depressed
    • 0 - III: superficial and excavated
Gross images

AFIP images

Small ulcer covered by blood clot

Plaque-like tumor is irregular, slightly elevated

Plaque with small polyp

Images hosted on other servers:

Multiple polypoid tumors

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Invasive nests with irregular borders in lamina propria or submucosa
  • Often multicentric
  • Invasive focus often has larger, more squamous appearing cells than overlying surface component
  • Often adjacent dysplastic epithelium
  • By definition, no invasion of muscularis propria
Microscopic (histologic) images

AFIP images

Tumor invades into middle of submucosa

Images hosted on other servers:

With leiomyomas


With leiomyoma

Differential diagnosis
  • Dysplasia involving ducts
  • Tangential sectioning of papillary or undulating dysplastic lesions
Additional references
Back to top