Radiologic implications of the 2011 classification of adenocarcinoma of the lung

Radiology. 2013 Jan;266(1):62-71. doi: 10.1148/radiol.12120240. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Now the leading subtype of lung cancer, adenocarcinoma received a new classification in 2011. For tumors categorized previously as bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC), criteria and terminology had not been uniform, so the 2011 classification provided four new terms: (a) adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS), representing histopathologically a small (≤3-cm), noninvasive lepidic growth, which at computed tomography (CT) is usually nonsolid; (b) minimally invasive adenocarcinoma, representing histopathologically a small (≤3-cm) and predominantly lepidic growth that has 5-mm or smaller invasion, which at CT is mainly nonsolid but may have a central solid component of up to approximately 5 mm; (c) lepidic predominant nonmucinous adenocarcinoma, representing histopathologically invasive adenocarcinoma that shows predominantly lepidic nonmucinous growth, which at CT is usually part solid but may be nonsolid or occasionally have cystic components; and (d) invasive mucinous adenocarcinoma, histopathologically showing lepidic growth as its predominant component, which at CT varies widely from solid to mostly solid to part solid to nonsolid and may be single or multiple (when multifocal, it was formerly called multicentric BAC). In addition, new histopathologic subcategories of acinar, papillary, micropapillary, and solid predominant adenocarcinoma are now described, all as nonmucinous, predominantly invasive, may include a small lepidic component, and at CT are usually solid but may include a small nonsolid component. The micropapillary subtype has a poorer prognosis than the other subtypes. In addition, molecular genetic correlations for the subcategories of adenocarcinoma of the lung are now a topic of increasing interest. As the new classification enters common use, further descriptions of related correlations can be anticipated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / classification*
  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Lung Neoplasms / classification*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards*