Neuroendocrine proliferations of the stomach: A pragmatic approach for the perplexed pathologist

Amber N. Cockburn, Christopher J. Morgan, Robert M. Genta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The classifications of neuroendocrine proliferations that lead from enterochromaffin-like cell hyperplasia to neuroendocrine tumors in the stomach are complicated and relatively inaccessible to nonspecialists. Consequently, these lesions tend to remain widely underdiagnosed until they progress to easily recognizable neuroendocrine tumors. This review provides simple, yet rigorous guidelines on how to recognize, classify, and diagnose the neuroendocrine proliferations found in the stomach, emphasizing the most common background in which they arise, atrophic gastritis. After a succinct outline of the types and distribution of the neuroendocrine cells in the normal gastric mucosa we discuss the most common situations in which the pathologist needs to think about gastric neuroendocrine cells. In general practice gastric biopsy specimens are often numerically and topographically inadequate for the evaluation of atrophic gastritis; therefore, we have included an algorithm to address specifically the steps that should be taken when confronted with suboptimal sampling. Finally, we illustrate the suggested diagnostic process with 4 cases that are fairly representative of the type of situations encountered in everyday practice. The pathologist who follows our simple steps will be better aware of this neglected area of gastric pathology and will learn to suspect, recognize, and accurately diagnose the most common abnormalities of the neuroendocrine system in the stomach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-157
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in anatomic pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Carcinoid
  • ECL cells
  • atrophic gastritis
  • neuroendocrine dysplasia
  • neuroendocrine hyperplasia
  • neuroendocrine proliferations
  • neuroendocrine tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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