Aims: We determined the clinicopathological features of primary lung carcinomas with rhabdoid cells by defining the immunophenotype of rhabdoid cells and analysing survival.
Methods and results: Rhabdoid cells are distinctive in having an eccentric nucleus and a large intracytoplasmic inclusion on routinely stained sections. Based on the number of rhabdoid cells, 45 cases of large cell carcinoma were divided into the following three types: lung tumour with a rhabdoid phenotype (LTRP) (n=4), lung carcinoma with a small number of rhabdoid cells (LCSR) (n=10), large cell carcinoma containing no rhabdoid cells (LCNR) (n=31). LTRP is composed of at least 10% rhabdoid cells. In LCSR the percentage of rhabdoid cells is less than 10%. LTRP and LCSR are associated with locally advanced disease. Immunohistochemical stains were positive for epithelial markers in all LTRP and eight LCSR, for neuroendocrine markers in one LTRP and three LCSR. The outcome is worse for patients with LTRP than LCSR or LCNR. LCSR shows a trend close to LCNR. Stage-matched survival analysis, however, revealed no statistically significant difference among the histological subtypes.
Conclusions: Rhabdoid cells are heterogeneous except for epithelial markers and vimentin positivity. Less than 5% of rhabdoid cells has a negligible effect on prognosis.