Lung cancer presenting as thin-walled cysts: An analysis of 15 cases and review of literature

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Lung cancer presenting as cysts is a rare entity in clinical practice. Differential diagnosis is difficult in the benign-like cyst.


We conducted a retrospective analysis of the clinical records of 15 patients who underwent surgery for primary lung cancer presenting as cysts (wall thickness <5 mm) in our department between 2007 and 2012. The whole group underwent postoperative follow-up.


The subjects' age ranged from 18 to 80 years with a median age of 58.3 years. Eight cases presented with respiratory symptoms while seven showed abnormal shadows on a chest computed tomography without symptoms. Histological analysis showed that 10 cases were of adenocarcinoma, two of squamous cell carcinoma and one of large cell carcinoma. Two patients died at 13 and 26 months and the remaining 13 patients are alive and disease free at 3–38 months.


Cystic lung cancer should be considered in the differential diagnosis of focal benign cyst. Cystic lung cancer could achieve a good outcome if early diagnosis can be obtained.

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