Large Cell Carcinoma of the Lung: An Endangered Species?

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This study aims to evaluate large cell carcinomas (LCC) of the lung with a panel of immunohistochemical markers in an attempt to identify tumors belonging to other categories. We analyzed a tissue microarray platform of 101 LCC with a panel of 31 monoclonal antibodies. The tumors were 82 (81.3%) classic LCC, 7 (6.9%) neuroendocrine LCC, 6 (5.9%) lymphoepithelioma-like LCC, 3 (2.9%) basaloid LCC, 2 (2%) clear cell LCC, and 1 (1%) LCC with rhabdoid phenotype. Characteristic classic LCC immunophenotype was loss of staining with CK5/6, CK14 positive in most squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), lack of MOC 31 positive in most adenocarcinomas, and positive immunoreactivity to EGFR, PDGFR-α and c-kit. 27 of 82 classic LCC (32.9%) were re-classified as adenocarcinomas, because they coexpressed TTF-1, CK7, and CK19, and were negative for p63. 31 (37.8%) of 82 classic LCC were reclassified as poorly differentiated SCC, based on their immunoreactivity with 34βE12, p63, thrombomodulin, and CD44v6. 16 (19.5%) of 82 classic LCC correspond to undifferentiated adenosquamous carcinomas, since they displayed conflicting immunostaining for markers of both SCC and adenocarcinomas. The use of 7 immunohistochemical markers, consisting of TTF-1, CK7, CK19, p63, 34βE12, thrombomodulin, and CD44v6, markedly reduces dramatically to less than 10%, the number of classic LCC by readily identifying cases of poorly differentiated SCCs, adenosquamous carcinoma and adenocarcinomas.

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