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Open Access Case report

Overdiagnosis of a typical carcinoid tumor as an adenocarcinoma of the lung: a case report and review of the literature

Ilhan Demirci1*, Susanne Herold2, Andreas Kopp3, Michael Flaßhove4, Bernd Klosterhalfen5 and Hermann Janßen1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General, Visceral, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery, Hospital of Düren

2 Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Gießen Lung Center, Gießen

3 Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Hospital of Düren

4 Department of Heamatology and Internal Oncology, Hospital of Düren

5 The Institute of Pathology, Hospital of Düren

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World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2012, 10:19  doi:10.1186/1477-7819-10-19

Published: 23 January 2012

Abstract

Background

Overdiagnosis of bronchopulmonary carcinoid tumors together with overtreatment can cause serious postoperative consequences for the patient. We report of a patient with a typical bronchopulmonary carcinoid tumor, which was initially misdiagnosed and treated as an adenocarcinoma of the lung. GnrH receptors and the associated Raf-1/MEK/ERK-1/2-pathway are potential targets for analogs in cancer treatment. We suspected a correlation between the lack of tumor growth, application of leuprolide and the Raf-1/MEK/ERK-1/2-pathway. Therefore, we examined GnrH receptor status in the examined specimen.

Case presentation

In 2010 a 77 year-old male patient was shown to have a tumor mass of about 1.7 cm diameter in the inferior lobe of the left lung. Since 2005, this tumor had hitherto been known and showed no progression in size. The patient suffered from prostate cancer 4 years ago and was treated with TUR-P, radiation therapy and the application of leuprolide. We conducted an explorative thoracotomy with atypical segment resection. The first histological diagnosis was a metastasis of prostate cancer with lymphangiosis carcinomatosa. After several immunohistochemical stainings, the diagnosis was changed to adenocarcinoma of the lung. We conducted a re-thoracotomy with lobectomy and systematic lymphadenectomy 12 days later. The tumor stage was pT1 N0 MX G2 L1 V0 R0. Further immunohistochemical studies were performed. We received the results 15 days after the last operation. The diagnosis was ultimately changed to typical carcinoid tumor without any signs of lymphatic vessel invasion. The patient recovered well from surgery, but still suffers from dyspnea and lack of physical performance. Lung function testing revealed no evidence of impairment.

Conclusion

The use of several immunohistochemical markers, careful evaluation of hematoxylin-eosin sections and the Ki-67 labelling index are important tools in discriminating between carcinoids and other bronchopulmonary carcinomas. Although we could not detect GnrH-receptors in the examined specimen, there may be individual differences in expression. GnrH receptor profiles in typical and atypical carcinoids should be scrutinized. This could lead to new therapeutical options, since the GnrH receptor has already been described on atypical carcinoids. Clinically tested drugs such as leuprolide could come to use.

Keywords:
Overdiagnosis; typical carcinoid tumors; atypical carcinoid tumors; leuprolide; GnrH receptor; Raf-1/MEK/ERK-1/2-pathway