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Pulmonary Sarcomatoid Carcinomas: A Review

Weissferdt, Annikka, MD, FRCPath

doi: 10.1097/PAP.0000000000000202
Review Articles

Pulmonary sarcomatoid carcinomas belong to a group of neoplasms that remain incompletely understood. They are rare tumors of the bronchopulmonary system that incorporate a wide range of neoplasms that by definition contain a sarcomatoid component characterized by spindle or giant cells. Such classification has led to a heterogenous tumor category that includes neoplasms with different clinical, morphologic, and prognostic features. To date, the histopathologic diagnosis of pulmonary sarcomatoid carcinomas does not require the use of ancillary testing and is based on light microscopic criteria alone. However, with recent advances in immunohistochemical and molecular methods, it is becoming increasingly clear that pulmonary sarcomatoid carcinomas represent poorly differentiated or “dedifferentiated” variants of conventional non–small cell carcinomas with similar immunophenotype and molecular signatures. This review summarizes the latest insights and concepts of these unusual tumors and outlines future directions with emphasis on tumor classification and patient management.

Department of Pathology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

The author has no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reprints: Annikka Weissferdt, MD, FRCPath, Department of Pathology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030 (e-mail: figures can be viewed online in color at

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