Pathologic classification of adenocarcinoma of lung
Recently, the 1999/2004 World Health Organization (WHO) classification of adenocarcinoma became less useful from a clinical standpoint as most adenocarcinomas belonged to the mixed subtype and the term bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC) gave rise to much confusion among clinicians. For these reasons a new adenocarcinoma classification was introduced in 2011 by a joint working group of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), American Thoracic Society (ATS), and European Respiratory Society (ERS). This represents an international, multidisciplinary effort joining pathologists, molecular biologists, pulmonary physicians, thoracic oncologists, radiologists, and thoracic surgeons. Currently, a distinction is made between pre-invasive lesions, minimally invasive and invasive lesions. The confusing term BAC is not used anymore and new subcategories include adenocarcinoma in situ and minimally invasive adenocarcinoma. Several aspects of this classification are discussed with main emphasis on its correlation with imaging techniques and its impact on diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. On chest computed tomography (CT) a distinction is made between solid and subsolid nodules, the latter comprising ground glass opacities (GGO), and partly solid lesions. Several studies incorporating CT and positron emission tomographic (PET) data show a good imaging-pathologic correlation. With the implementation of screening programs early lung cancer has become a hotly debated topic and sublobar resection is currently reconsidered for early lesions without lymph node involvement. This new classification will also have an impact on the TNM classification. Thoracic surgeons will continue to play a major role in the application, evaluation and further refinement of this new adenocarcinoma classification.