Difficulties in diagnostics of lung tumours in biopsies: an interpathologist concordance study evaluating the international diagnostic guidelines

Kajsa Ericson Lindquist, Cristina Ciornei, Sofia Westbom-Fremer, Inga Gudinaviciene, Anna Ehinger, Nektaria Mylona, Rodrigo Urdar, Maria Lianou, Franziska Svensson, Tomas Seidal, Felix Haglund, Katalin Dobra, Mátyás Béndek, Erika Bardóczi, Aneta Szablewska, Marek Witkowski, Maria Ramnefjell, Luis E. De Las Casas, Miklos Gulyas, Agnes HegedusPatrick Micke, Hans Brunnström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Aims Accurate and reliable diagnosis is essential for lung cancer treatment. The study aim was to investigate interpathologist diagnostic concordance for pulmonary tumours according to WHO diagnostic criteria. Methods Fifty-two unselected lung and bronchial biopsies were diagnosed by a thoracic pathologist based on a broad spectrum of immunohistochemical (IHC) stainings, molecular data and clinical/radiological information. Slides stained with H&E, thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1) clone SPT24 and p40 were scanned and provided digitally to 20 pathologists unaware of reference diagnoses. The pathologists independently diagnosed the cases and stated if further diagnostic markers were deemed necessary. Results In 31 (60%) of the cases, ≥80% of the pathologists agreed with each other and with the reference diagnosis. Lower agreement was seen in non-small cell neuroendocrine tumours and in squamous cell carcinoma with diffuse TTF-1 positivity. Agreement with the reference diagnosis ranged from 26 to 45 (50%-87%) for the individual pathologists. The pathologists requested additional IHC staining in 15-44 (29%-85%) of the 52 cases. In nearly half (17 of 36) of the malignant cases, one or more pathologist advocated for a different final diagnosis than the reference without need of additional IHC markers, potentially leading to different clinical treatment. Conclusions Interpathologist diagnostic agreement is moderate for small unselected bronchial and lung biopsies based on a minimal panel of markers. Neuroendocrine morphology is sometimes missed and TTF-1 clone SPT24 should be interpreted with caution. Our results suggest an intensified education need for thoracic pathologists and a more generous use of diagnostic IHC markers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-309
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of clinical pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • diagnosis
  • immunohistochemistry
  • lung neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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