Micropapillary adenocarcinoma of lung: Morphological criteria and diagnostic reproducibility among pulmonary pathologists

Ann Diagn Pathol. 2019 Aug:41:43-50. doi: 10.1016/j.anndiagpath.2019.04.008. Epub 2019 Apr 24.


Context: Invasive micropapillary adenocarcinoma (MPC) is an aggressive variant of lung adenocarcinoma, frequently manifesting with advanced stage lymph node metastasis and decreased survival.

Objective: Identification of this morphology is important, as it is strongly correlated with poor prognosis regardless of the amount of MPC component. To date, no study has investigated the morphological criteria used to objectively diagnose it.

Design: Herein, we selected 30 cases of potential MPC of lung, and distributed 2 digital images per case among 15 pulmonary pathology experts. Reviewers were requested to diagnostically interpret, assign the percentage of MPC component, and record the morphological features they identified. The noted features included: columnar cells, elongated slender cell nests, extensive stromal retraction, lumen formation with internal epithelial tufting, epithelial signet ring-like forms, intracytoplasmic vacuolization, multiple nests in the same alveolar space, back-to-back lacunar spaces, epithelial nest anastomosis, marked pleomorphism, peripherally oriented nuclei, randomly distributed nuclei, small/medium/large tumor nest size, fibrovascular cores, and spread through air-spaces (STAS).

Results: Cluster analysis revealed three subgroups with the following diagnoses: "MPC", "combined papillary and MPC", and "others". The subgroups correlated with the reported median percentage of MPC. Intracytoplasmic vacuolization, epithelial nest anastomosis/confluence, multiple nests in the same alveolar space, and small/medium tumor nest size were the most common criteria identified in the cases diagnosed as MPC. Peripherally oriented nuclei and epithelial signet ring-like forms were frequently identified in both the "MPC" and "combined papillary and MPC" groups.

Conclusions: Our study provides objective diagnostic criteria to diagnose MPC of lung.

Keywords: Lung Adenocarcinoma; Micropapillary; Morphology.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Papillary / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Papillary / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pathologists
  • Pathology, Surgical / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results