Application of tumor, node, and metastasis (TNM) classification is difficult in patients with lung cancer presenting as multiple ground glass nodules or with diffuse pneumonic-type involvement. Clarification of how to do this is needed for the forthcoming eighth edition of TNM classification.Methods:
A subcommittee of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer Staging and Prognostic Factors Committee conducted a systematic literature review to build an evidence base regarding such tumors. An iterative process that included an extended workgroup was used to develop proposals for TNM classification.Results:
Patients with multiple tumors with a prominent ground glass component on imaging or lepidic component on microscopy are being seen with increasing frequency. These tumors are associated with good survival after resection and a decreased propensity for nodal and extrathoracic metastases. Diffuse pneumonic-type involvement in the lung is associated with a worse prognosis, but also with a decreased propensity for nodal and distant metastases.Conclusion:
For multifocal ground glass/lepidic tumors, we propose that the T category be determined by the highest T lesion, with either the number of tumors or m in parentheses to denote the multifocal nature, and that a single N and M category be used for all the lesions collectively—for example, T1a(3)N0M0 or T1b(m)N0M0. For diffuse pneumonic-type lung cancer we propose that the T category be designated by size (or T3) if in one lobe, as T4 if involving an ipsilateral different lobe, or as M1a if contralateral and that a single N and M category be used for all pulmonary areas of involvement.