Cytologic diagnosis of pulmonary adenocarcinoma with micropapillary pattern: does it correlate with the histologic findings?

Diagn Cytopathol. 2009 May;37(5):333-9. doi: 10.1002/dc.21011.


Micropapillary adenocarcinoma is associated with poor-prognosis in several organs including the lung. The presence of small tight balls of neoplastic cells devoid of fibrovascular core in cytological preparations (micropapillary tufts) has been described as characteristic of micropapillary adenocarcinoma. In the lung, however, this criterion has not been validated. The cytological material of 46 cases of histologically proven pulmonary adenocarcinoma with a micropapillary component was compared to 33 cases with no micropapillary component to determine the specificity of micropapillary tufts for the histologic diagnosis of micropapillary adenocarcinoma. Other histologic patterns of invasive pulmonary adenocarcinomas (acinar, papillary, and solid) were also compared with patterns of neoplastic cell aggregates in cytological preparations. There were no significant differences in the distribution of micropapillary clusters between the two groups. The positive predictive value for the cytologic diagnosis of a micropapillary component in lung adenocarcinomas was of 64%. Similar findings were observed for other invasive patterns. Therefore, the detection of micropapillary tufts in cytology is not specific for the diagnosis of a pulmonary micropapillary adenocarcinoma in the lung.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged