Heterogeneity in Lung Cancer

Pathobiology. 2018;85(1-2):96-107. doi: 10.1159/000487440. Epub 2018 Apr 10.


Lung cancer diagnosis is a challenge since it is also one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers. Diagnostic challenges are deeply related to the development of personalized therapy and molecular and precise histological characterizations of lung cancer. When addressing these features, it is very important to acknowledge the issue of tumour heterogeneity, as it imposes several questions. First of all, lung cancer is a very heterogeneous disease, at a cellular and histological level. Cellular and histological heterogeneity are addressed with emphasis on the diagnosis, pre-neoplastic lesions, and cell origin, trying to contribute to a better knowledge of carcinogenesis. Molecular intra-tumour and inter-tumour heterogeneity are also addressed as temporal heterogeneity. Lung cancer heterogeneity has implications in pathogenesis understanding, diagnosis, selection of tissue for molecular diagnosis, as well as therapeutic decision. The understanding of tumour heterogeneity is crucial and we must be aware of the implications and future developments regarding this field.

Keywords: Genetics; Heterogeneity; Lung cancer; Molecular pathology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Genetic Heterogeneity*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / classification
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mutation


  • Biomarkers, Tumor