Reliably making the primary diagnosis of mesothelioma utilizing serous fluid cytology specimens: an institutional experience

Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology 2024 March 2 [Link]

Terri E Jones, Daniel L Geisler, Swikrity Upadhyay Baskota, N Paul Ohori, Jacqueline Cuda, Samer N Khader


Introduction: The diagnosis of mesothelioma has historically been challenging, especially on serous fluid cytology (SFC). Distinguishing between reactive and neoplastic mesothelial cells can be difficult on cytomorphology alone. However, additional ancillary tests, such as BRCA1 associated protein-1 immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization for cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A deletion, can provide a sensitive and highly specific method of proving malignancy.

Materials and methods: SFC specimens diagnosed as mesothelioma, suspicious for mesothelioma (SM), and atypical mesothelial cells (AMCs) since 2012 were identified by querying the laboratory information system. Clinical data and pathologic parameters were gathered.

Results: One hundred ten cases of mesothelioma, SM, and AMC were identified. Of these, 61 cases had a definitive diagnosis of mesothelioma on SFC. Average age at SFC diagnosis was 67 years (26-87 years), with most patients being male (67%). Out of the 61 cases, 11 cases (18%) had an initial diagnosis of mesothelioma made on SFC specimens, with 5 of these 11 cases being in patients that never received a histologic diagnosis of mesothelioma. Ancillary studies were utilized in all 11 cases. An initial diagnosis of metastatic mesothelioma was made on SFC in 9 cases (15%). For 6 of these 9 cases, the SFC diagnosis was the sole diagnosis of metastatic mesothelioma without a companion histologic diagnosis. In addition, 15 cases were diagnosed as SM, with 11 of these cases following a definitive mesothelioma diagnosis. Thirty-four cases were diagnosed as AMC, with 27 cases following a definitive mesothelioma diagnosis.

Conclusions: The diagnosis of mesothelioma can be reliably made on SFC with the appropriate cytomorphology criteria and/or confirmatory ancillary testing.