Diagnostic surgical pathology in lung cancer: Diagnosis and management of lung cancer, 3rd ed: American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines

Chest. 2013 May;143(5 Suppl):e251S-e262S. doi: 10.1378/chest.12-2356.


Background: This article provides evidence-based background and recommendations for the development of American College of Chest Physicians guidelines for the diagnosis and management of lung cancer. Specific population, intervention, comparison, and outcome questions were addressed to arrive at consensus recommendations.

Methods: A systematic search of the medical and scientific literature using MEDLINE and PubMed was performed for the years 1990 to 2011 and limited to literature on humans and articles written in English. Our approach to examining the evidence and formulating recommendations is described in the "Methodology for Lung Cancer Evidence Review and Guideline Development: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines (2nd Edition)" and updated in "Methodology for Development of Guidelines for Lung Cancer: Diagnosis and Management of Lung Cancer, 3rd ed: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines."

Results: Pathologic examination results of lung cancers should be recorded in a synoptic form to include important prognostic features of histologic type, tumor size and location, involvement of visceral pleura, extension to regional and distant lymph nodes, and metastatic spread to visceral organs and bone to increase completeness of recording. It is important for the surgical pathologist to make distinctions between malignant mesothelioma and pleural adenocarcinomas, small cell and non-small cell carcinomas, adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, and primary and metastatic carcinomas of the lung. In challenging cases of pathologic differential diagnosis, additional studies may enable the separation of distinct tumor types.

Conclusions: Pathologic assessment of lung cancers is a crucial component for the diagnosis, management, and prognosis of lung cancer, making the pathologist a critical member of the clinical and management team. Selective diagnostic techniques, including limited designed immunohistochemical panels, and decision analysis will increase diagnostic accuracy.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Pathology, Surgical / methods*
  • Prognosis