Purpose: To analyze diagnostic approaches, survival predictors, and treatment efficacy in pneumonic-type adenocarcinoma (P-ADC).
Patients and methods: Fifty-two patients with P-ADC diagnosed between January 1986 and December 2000 were studied. P-ADC was defined as histologically or cytologically proven pulmonary adenocarcinoma with a pneumonia-like consolidation, in a patient with no prior diagnosis of thoracic or extrathoracic adenocarcinoma.
Results: Sixty percent of the patients were men (n = 31), and 65% (n = 34) were current or former smokers. Mean (+/- SD) age at diagnosis was 66 +/- 1.4 years. P-ADC was diagnosed by routine chest radiography in 17% of cases (n = 9). Bronchorrhea was present in 31% of cases (n = 16), and crepitant rales in 58% (n = 30). The primary tumor appeared as consolidations, which could not be assessed and were thus classified Tx, in 83% of the patients (n = 43). Ten percent of the patients (n = 5) had a satellite tumor within the lobe containing the primary tumor (T4), and 63% (n = 33) had a satellite tumor in another lobe (M1). Extrathoracic metastases were present in 5% of cases (n = 3). Bronchial biopsy, transbronchial biopsy, bronchial aspiration, and BAL were positive in 21%, 80%, 44%, and 66% of cases, respectively. The median survival time after diagnosis was 10.5 months (range, 1 to 150 months). The outcome of patients treated by lobectomy or bilobectomy was significantly better than that of patients treated with pneumonectomy, chemotherapy, or best supportive care (p < 0.01). Bronchorrhea and crepitant rales were independent predictors of shorter survival when the treatment modality (surgery vs no surgery) was not entered as a risk factor.
Conclusions: P-ADC is characterized by aerogenous propagation, as emphasized by the results of multivariate analysis showing that bronchorrhea and crepitant rales were the only two independent factors of shorter survival. Surgery remains the most effective treatment in P-ADC, especially when lobectomy is feasible. As CT is not sensitive enough to detect multifocal lesions, new tools are required to evaluate pulmonary involvement and thereby to refine the surgical strategy.