'Pseudomesotheliomatous' carcinomas of the pleura: a 10-year analysis of cases from the Environmental Lung Disease Research Group, Cardiff

Histopathology. 2003 Nov;43(5):444-52. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2559.2003.01674.x.


Aims: To undertake a clinicopathological study of diffuse serosal neoplasms of epithelial histogenesis which clinically and pathologically mimic malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Methods and results: Over a 10-year (1990-2000) study period 53 carcinomas mimicking diffuse pleural mesothelioma ('pseudomesotheliomatous' carcinoma) were identified. The study group comprised 50 men and three females, age range 33-77 (median 68) years. In 46 (87%) cases there was a history of smoking and in 40 (76%) cases a history of asbestos exposure. Histologically the pleural 'pseudomesotheliomatous' carcinomas could be divided into two broad groups: primary pulmonary carcinomas with florid pleurotropic growth (n = 47), of which 34 (70%) were adenocarcinomas; and diffuse carcinomatous involvement of the pleura by metastatic tumour (n = 6). This latter group comprised two transitional cell carcinomas of bladder, one renal (clear) cell carcinoma, one ductal pancreatic adenocarcinoma, one prostatic adenocarcinoma and one squamous cell carcinoma of parotid gland origin. Follow-up data were available in 35 cases. Regardless of tumour type, survival was poor (median 8 months) and comparable to diffuse pleural mesothelioma.

Conclusions: Pleural 'pseudomesotheliomatous' carcinomas are uncommon (comprising 6% of referrals), pathologically heterogeneous tumours with poor prognosis. Tissue diagnosis should be obtained in all cases of suspected diffuse pleural neoplasia. By light microscopy and immunophenotype many of the tumours mimicked malignant mesothelioma. In particular, an awareness that all neoplasms exhibiting squamous differentiation may express cytokeratin 5/6 and thrombomodulin is important to prevent misinterpretation. In this respect, calretinin is regarded as the most specific and sensitive mesothelial marker. Misdiagnosis may have medico-legal implications in asbestos-related compensation claims.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Calbindin 2
  • Carcinoma / metabolism
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / secondary
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / metabolism
  • Mesothelioma / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pleural Neoplasms / pathology*
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / biosynthesis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CALB2 protein, human
  • Calbindin 2
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G