Clinically Occult Diffuse Pleural Mesothelioma in Patients Presenting With Spontaneous Pneumothorax

American Journal of Clinical Pathology 2023 May 31 [Link]

Daffolyn Rachael Fels Elliott, Kristine E Konopka, Steven M Hrycaj, Kiran H Lagisetty, Jeffrey L Myers, Carol F Farver, Tao Huang


Objectives: To report histologic features of unsuspected diffuse pleural mesothelioma (DPM) in surgical specimens for pneumothorax and demonstrate how ancillary markers support a diagnosis of malignancy in this context. We explored whether pneumothorax may be a clinical manifestation of mesothelioma in situ (MIS).

Methods: A single-institution database search identified patients who underwent surgical resection for spontaneous pneumothorax (n = 229) and/or were diagnosed with DPM (n = 88) from 2000 to 2020.

Results: Spontaneous pneumothorax without clinical, radiologic, or intraoperative suspicion of mesothelioma was the initial presentation in 2 (2.3%) of 88 patients diagnosed with DPM. This represented 0.9% (2/229) of all patients undergoing surgical management of pneumothorax but accounted for a larger proportion of older patients (12.5% older than 70 years). Immunohistochemistry for BAP-1 and/or MTAP confirmed the diagnosis of DPM in 2 cases. Mesothelioma in situ was identified retrospectively by immunohistochemistry in 1 case of spontaneous pneumothorax from a 77-year-old man who developed invasive DPM 25 months later. No additional cases of MIS were identified in 19 surgical lung resections for spontaneous pneumothorax.

Conclusions: Histologic examination of bleb resections with ancillary testing for cases with ambiguous features is essential for detection of early DPM. It is uncertain whether spontaneous pneumothorax may represent a clinical manifestation of MIS.