The cytologic diagnosis of mesothelioma: are we there yet?

Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology 2022 December 26 [Link]

Claire W Michael


Introduction: Mesothelioma is a rare but highly aggressive malignancy with poor prognosis that frequently present with recurrent effusions. Establishing the diagnosis by cytology can lead to early diagnosis and treatment and consequently improve prognosis.

Materials and methods: This review examines the cytological diagnosis of mesothelioma in the context of its historical and morphologic evolution and provides an update of the current reporting systems. Clues to identify the mesothelial and malignant nature of the sample are detailed as well as the supporting ancillary tests.

Results: Cytologically, the samples are overwhelmingly cellular and malignancy is recognized by both architectural and cytological atypia. Numerous variably sized clusters and enlarged cells are easily identified, some with papillary architecture and collagen cores. Recognizing the mesothelial nature of the cells and supportive immunostains are essential to rule out the differential diagnosis of metastatic carcinomas and reactive mesothelium. Current ancillary tests such as homozygous deletion of CDKN2A, loss of BRCA1-associated protein, and methylthioadenosine phosphorylase expression can provide further support of malignancy.

Conclusions: At this time with the aid of current ancillary tests and in the hands of cytopathologists with adequate experience with the interpretation of effusions, the diagnosis of mesothelioma can be established with accuracy in most cases.