Carcinosarcomas of the Lung: A Clinicopathologic Study of 66 Patients

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Abstract

Carcinosarcoma is a malignant tumor having a mixture of carcinoma and sarcoma containing differentiated mesenchymal elements, such as malignant cartilage, bone, and skeletal muscle. These tumors have been linked histogenetically to pleomorphic carcinomas; it is unclear whether their clinical behavior is significantly different. To investigate this issue, we studied 66 cases of carcinosarcomas of the lung and compared them with cases from a previously published series of pleomorphic carcinomas. Carcinosarcomas show a male-to-female ratio of 7.25:1, with a mean and median age of 65 years. They most often present as solitary masses in the upper lobes and average 7 cm in diameter. Most (62%) were endobronchial or central tumors, whereas 38% were described as peripheral. The most frequent epithelial component was squamous cell carcinoma (46%), followed by adenocarcinoma (31%) and adenosquamous carcinoma (19%), whereas sarcomatous elements most frequently included rhabdomyosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, or combinations of these elements. Survival of patients with carcinosarcomas of lung was poor, with a 5-year survival rate of 21.3%. Of several clinical and pathologic parameters, only increased tumor size (with 6 cm as the optimal cutoff point) appeared to be related to reduced survival (p = 0.0195). In comparison with patients with pleomorphic carcinoma, patients with carcinosarcomas had no significant difference in the size of their tumors (p = 1.0), stage at presentation (p = 0.883), location in the lung (p = 0.073), or their overall survival (21.3% vs 15.0%) (p = 0.1038). A significantly greater proportion of patients with carcinosarcoma had squamous cell (p = 0.004) or adenosquamous (p = 0.016) carcinoma, whereas patients who had pleomorphic carcinoma showed a significantly greater frequency of adenocarcinoma (p = 0.029) and large cell carcinoma. The histologic differences between these two types of tumor suggest that they may be different entities with similar behavior, but additional studies are warranted to investigate this hypothesis.

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