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The Korean Journal of Cytopathology 2006;17(2): 120-125.
Differential Diagnosis between Small Cell Carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma of Lung in Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology.
Young Hee Choi, Jae Soo Koh, Sunhoo Park, Min Suk Kim, Soo Youn Cho, Jung Soon Kim, Hwa Jung Ha, Seung Sook Lee
1Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, Hallym University, Korea.
2Department of Pathology, Korea Cancer Center Hospital, Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences, Korea. sslee@kcch.re.kr
Distinguishing small cell carcinoma from other lung malignancies is of great clinico-therapeutic significance. Small cell carcinoma is an aggressive tumor with a tendency to metastasize early. Survival time if untreated is low but this tumor is highly responsive to chemotherapy. We have occasionally experienced difficulties in differentiation between adenocarcinoma and small cell carcinoma of the lung in fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC). The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility of distinguishing small cell carcinoma from adenocarcinoma of the lung in FNAC. We evaluated cytomorphological features of FNAC specimens from 62 small cell carcinomas and 57 adenocarcinomas from the lung that were confirmed by biopsy and/or immunohistochemistry on cell block. Cytomorphological details of the two tumors were compared. Nuclear smearing and nearly absent cytoplasm were the most distinct findings in small cell carcinoma compared to adenocarcinoma (p<0.05). Necrotic background, architecture and chromatin pattern, nuclear molding and nucleoli were significantly different (p<0.05). Nuclear size, nuclear membrane nature and nuclear size variation however were not helpful in distinguishing the two tumors. Combining several features described above, small cell carcinoma can be properly differentiated from adenocarcinoma on FNAC. FNAC is proposed as a diagnostic tool of small cell carcinoma of the lung in the case of inaccessibility to biopsy, and so may allow the proper therapeutic strategies to be determined in such cases.
Key Words: Lung; Small cell carcinoma; Adenocarcinoma; cytology