Interobserver Variation among Pathologists and Refinement of Criteria in Distinguishing Separate Primary Tumors from Intrapulmonary Metastases in Lung Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Activators
  • Protein Phosphatase 2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)


  • Multiple tumor nodules are seen with increasing frequency in clinical practice. On the basis of the 2015 WHO classification of lung tumors, we assessed the reproducibility of the comprehensive histologic assessment to distinguish second primary lung cancers (SPLCs) from intrapulmonary metastases (IPMs), looking for the most distinctive histologic features. An international panel of lung pathologists reviewed a scanned sequential cohort of 126 tumors from 48 patients and recorded an agreed set of histologic features, including tumor typing and predominant pattern of adenocarcinoma, thereby opining whether the case was SPLC, IPM, or a combination thereof. Cohen κ statistics of 0.60 on overall assessment of SPLC or IPM indicated a good agreement. Likewise, there was good agreement (κ score 0.64, p < 0.0001) between WHO histologic pattern in individual cases and SPLC or IPM status, but the proportions diversified for histologic pattern and SPLC or IPM status (McNemar test, p < 0.0001). The strongest associations for distinguishing between SPLC and IPM were observed for nuclear pleomorphism, cell size, acinus formation, nucleolar size, mitotic rate, nuclear inclusions, intraalveolar clusters, and necrosis. Conversely, the associations for lymphocytosis, mucin content, lepidic growth, vascular invasion, macrophage response, clear cell change, acute inflammation keratinization, and emperipolesis did not reach significance with tumor extent. Comprehensive histologic assessment is recommended for distinguishing SPLC from IPM with good reproducibility among lung pathologists. In addition to main histologic type and predominant patterns of histologic subtypes, nuclear pleomorphism, cell size, acinus formation, nucleolar size, and mitotic rate strongly correlate with pathologic staging status.


publication date

  • February 2018



  • Academic Article



  • eng

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jtho.2017.10.019

PubMed ID

  • 29127023

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 205

end page

  • 217


  • 13


  • 2