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Pulmonary Pathology Online

Pathology of Pleomorphic Carcinoma of Lung

Dr Sampurna Roy MD




Lung pleomorphic (spindle/giant cell) carcinoma is a rare epithelial malignant tumour.

Its incidence has been reported to range from 0.1 to 0.4% of all lung cancers.

The tumour is defined as a group of poorly differentiated non-small cell carcinoma that contains a component of spindle and/or giant cells. 

Pulmonary pleomorphic carcinoma was introduced by the 1999 World Health Organization classification as a new peculiar type of lung carcinoma showing concurrent malignant epithelial and sarcomatoid spindle cell elements.

The frequency with which spindle and giant cell carcinomas are found together, their frequent association with other histologic subtypes of lung carcinoma, and the similar clinicopathologic features of these tumors suggest that they are best regarded as one type of lung cancer called pleomorphic carcinoma.

Histopathologic examination of the resected specimen revealed that the lung tumor composed of a mixture of spindle and pleomorphic malignant giant cells.

In some cases the tumour contains a component of adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. 

There are frequent areas of hemorrhage and/or necrosis.

The diagnosis is based on histopathology and immunohistochemical staining of AE1/AE3 and Vimentin.

Differential diagnosis:  Distinguished from Spindle cell squamous carcinoma  due to its marked pleomorphism and prominent giant cell component.

Pulmonary pleomorphic carcinoma has a more aggressive clinical course than other non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs)


Further reading:

Clinicopathological characteristics of surgically resected pulmonary pleomorphic carcinoma.

Clinicopathologic features of lung pleomorphic (spindle/giant cell) carcinoma--a report of 17 cases .

Pulmonary pleomorphic carcinoma .

Pulmonary pleomorphic carcinoma; report of 2 cases .

Pathological study of pulmonary carcinomas with spindle and/or giant cells .

Cavitating pleomorphic carcinoma of the lung; report of a case .

Pulmonary pleomorphic carcinoma].

Pleomorphic (spindle/giant cell) carcinoma of the lung. A clinicopathologic correlation of 78 cases.

Pleomorphic (giant and/or spindle cell) carcinoma of lung shows a high percentage of variant CYP1A12.

Personal experience in surgical management of pulmonary pleomorphic carcinoma.

Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung: a clinicopathologic study of 37 cases.

Pulmonary giant cell carcinoma: pathological entity or morphological phenotype?

Pleomorphic (giant and spindle cell) carcinoma is genetically distinct from adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma by K-ras-2 and p53 analysis.



Dr Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant  Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)







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