Effusion cytology of malignant mesothelioma enables earlier diagnosis and recognizes patients with better prognosis.

Diagnostic Cytopathology 2020 February 20 [Link]

Abd Own S, Höijer J, Hillerdahl G, Dobra K, Hjerpe A


A conclusive diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma (MM) can be based on effusion cytology using the guidelines for the cytopathologic diagnosis of epithelioid and mixed-type MM. Briefly, the diagnosis is obtained when the mesothelial phenotype of malignant cells is established by ancillary techniques. This study is based on the comparison of the overall survival rates of patients with MM when diagnosed by effusion cytology, histopathology, or a combination of both. A total of 144 patients were diagnosed with epithelioid and mixed-type pleural MM at Karolinska University Hospital between 2004 and 2013. The diagnosis was obtained by histopathology in 74 cases and by cytological examination of pleural effusion in 70 cases. In 29 of the latter cases, a diagnostic biopsy was obtained simultaneously. A total of 104 patients received chemotherapy. All diagnoses were supported by clinical findings, including computer tomography scans. The median time between first symptoms and diagnosis was similar for cytology and histopathology. However, a delay of more than 6 months after first symptoms was seen in many patients in the histopathology group, resulting in late onset of treatment. The overall survival and proportion of long-term survival were significantly better for cases diagnosed by cytology. Similarly, a better survival, following a cytological diagnosis, was also seen in patients who were only provided the best supportive care. Accurate cytological diagnosis enables conclusive diagnosis of MM. Our finding enables the initiation of treatment as soon as the cytological diagnosis is established, avoiding further delay and deterioration of patient survival and possibilities for treatment.