Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Center, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California USA
Granular cell tumor (GCT) of the oral cavity is a benign lesion. Half of oral GCTs demonstrate pseudocarcinomatous hyperplasia (PCH) of the mucosa which can mimic invasive islands of oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Such similarity can be confusing when diagnosing or evaluating the two conditions, potentially leading to misdiagnosis or misclassification. Indeed, several misdiagnosed cases of oral GCT have been reported in the literature as OSCC or malignant oral GCT that resulted in unnecessary aggressive treatment for the affected patients. The aim of this study was to investigate if the cytokeratin pattern of the PCH can help in differentiating GCT from oral SCC. To distinguish between these two entities, we examined 12 patient specimens of oral GCT-PCH and oral SCC histologically and via immunohistochemistry (IHC) for CK13, CK17 and P75. The results suggest that the cytokeratin profile of PCH is similar to that of oral SCC. Therefore, consideration of IHC findings for epithelial markers alone may lead to erroneous diagnosis; thus, the presence of the granular tumor underneath the PCH and its immunopositivity for P75 or other neural definition markers can be essential to identify the underlying tumor and exclude oral SCC. Finally we recommend more studies on the molecular biology of PCH to understand how it can mimic oral SCC histologically without harboring its malignant phenotype clinically, which could have significant translational potential for understanding invasive oral SCC.