Cytological characteristics of pulmonary pleomorphic and giant cell carcinomas

Acta Cytol. 2011;55(2):173-9. doi: 10.1159/000320860. Epub 2011 Feb 15.


Objective: To establish cytological features of pulmonary pleomorphic carcinoma (PC) or giant cell carcinoma (GC), we evaluated the cytological characteristics of these tumors using a multidisciplinary approach.

Study design: Samples from 13 surgically resected and histologically confirmed PC or GC patients were collected from our institutes. Eight cases without prior chemotherapy before surgery were selected, and cytological features were analyzed.

Results: The background contained numerous lymphocytes and neutrophils. The tumor cells were arranged in flat loose clusters, but some were in fascicles. The shape of the tumor cell was spindle or pleomorphic, and the sizes of the tumor cells varied by more than 5-fold. The tumor cells had an abundant, thick and well-demarcated cytoplasm. The location of the nucleus was centrifugal, and the nucleus was oval or irregularly shaped. Multinucleated giant cells were frequently observed. The size of the nucleus was more than 5 times that of normal lymphocytes, and its size also varied by more than 5-fold. The nuclear membrane was thin, and nuclear chromatin was coarsely granular, while the nucleolus was single and round.

Conclusion: PC or GC has characteristic cytological features, however, spindle cells tended to be hardly observed in cytological specimens in some cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Giant Cell / pathology*
  • Cell Aggregation
  • Cytological Techniques / methods*
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Giant Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged