Slide of the Week: Lung cancer, July 4th, 2011

61 YO male with 3 month history of cough.  Mass found in lung and excised.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer



Your diagnosis is:

  1. Squamous cell carcinoma
  2. Adenocarcinoma
  3. Small cell carcinoma
  4. Carcinoid



Click here to see the whole slide image.

Click here for the comparative pathology.

Scroll below for answer.










Answer: 3, small cell carcinoma.


Comment: This was originally diagnosed as a small cell carcinoma of the lung. However, The cells exceed the size criteria of scanty cytoplasm and a diameter no more than three resting lymphocytic nuclei. The cytoplasm is also abundant. A panel of experts classified this as a small cell carcinoma of the lung, intermediate grade. The case illustrates the ambiguity in some of our diagnostic criteria.


Travis WD. Lung tumours with neuroendocrine differentiation. Eur J Cancer. 2009 Sep;45 Suppl 1:251-66. Review. PubMed PMID: 19775623.

den Bakker MA, Willemsen S, Grünberg K, Noorduijn LA, van Oosterhout MF, van Suylen RJ, Timens W, Vrugt B, Wiersma-van Tilburg A, Thunnissen FB. Small cell carcinoma of the lung and large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma interobserver variability. Histopathology. 2010 Feb;56(3):356-63. PubMed PMID: 20459535.


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