3 years ago

A Prospective Study of Loose Tissue Fragments in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer Resection Specimens: An Alternative View to “Spread Through Air Spaces”

Witte, Birgit, Thunnissen, Erik, Blaauwgeers, Hans, Harms, Alexander, Warth, Arne, Flieder, Douglas, Monkhorst, Kim
imageThe World Health Organization Classification of Lung Tumors considers “Spread Through Air Spaces” a form of invasion in lung adenocarcinoma. The recently described spread of free-floating cell clusters during lung specimen sectioning, otherwise known as “Spread Through A Knife Surface,” represents an ex vivo artifact. The purpose of this study was to prospectively investigate the presence and frequency of these free-floating tumor cell clusters in surgically resected lung cancer specimens and their possible relation to gross examination procedures. A prospective, multi-institutional study of non–small cell lung cancer resection specimen was undertaken. At prosection the first cut was made with a clean knife; the second cut was made in a parallel plane to the first. Four tissue blocks were taken from upper and lower parts of first and second cuts. Hematoxylin and eosin–stained slides were examined for displaced benign and/or malignant tissue fragments. Forty-four resection specimens were studied. The mean number of tumor clusters for blocks 1 to 4 was 0.36, 1.44, 1.86, and 1.95, respectively, and for benign fragments was 0.11, 0.11, 0.13, and 0.25, respectively. Almost all cell clusters were intra-alveolar. Comparison of tumor cell clusters in block 1 with blocks 2 to 4 was significant with P-values (Friedman test for repeated measures 0.03) 0.031, 0.02, and 0.05, respectively. Overall 93% of the loose tissue fragments could be explained by mechanical forces associated with tissue handling. While the 2015 World Health Organization Classification of Lung Tumors recognizes Spread Through Air Spaces as a form of lung cancer invasion, such is debatable and in many instances likely represents mechanical artifact, including dissemination along the prosecting knife blade.
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