AIMS--To determine the direction of differentiation of the mucin secreting components in a rare group of oesophageal tumours--oesophageal squamous cell carcinomas with prominent mucin secreting components (mucoepidermoid carcinomas and adenosquamous carcinomas). METHODS--In a review of 617 cases of primary carcinoma of the oesophagus, 16 cases of squamous cell carcinoma with prominent mucin secreting components were studied using a battery of histochemical techniques. RESULTS--The mucin produced by these tumours was mixed and included a variable content of enzyme labile sialomucin (positive for mucicarmine, periodic acid Schiff, and alcian blue, and sensitive to sialidase digestion and negative for high iron diamine-alcian blue). Retrospective analysis of endoscopic biopsy specimens taken from these tumours showed that mucin was present in five (42%) cases. CONCLUSIONS--The glandular component of this group of tumours histochemically differentiated in the direction of oesophageal glands: examination of the mucin secreting component in squamous cell carcinoma in resected specimens is therefore required for recording the true incidence of this type of tumour.
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