Well-differentiated fetal adenocarcinoma of the lung mimicking adenoid cystic carcinoma on fine needle aspiration: A case report

Vilasinee Rerkpichaisuth, Jennifer A. Collins, Thiraphon Boonyaarunnate, Syed Z Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Well-differentiated fetal adenocarcinoma (WDFA) of the lung is a rare variant of adenocarcinoma with an unusual morphology. Although the histologic features of this rare neoplasm have been well established, there is a deficit in the literature with regards to its discrete cytomorphologic features. We report the fine needle aspiration (FNA) findings of a case of this unusual malignancy in a 44-year-old man with an incidental lung nodule. FNA revealed three-dimensional clusters of epithelial cells with scant cytoplasm, hyperchromatic nuclei that are associated with an extracellular metachromatic matrix. The original cytology report was signed out as an epithelial neoplasm favor adenoid cystic carcinoma. Consequently, a wedge resection of the lung was done and the histologic diagnosis was WDFA of the lung. The findings of minimal nuclear atypia in association with focally abundant spheres of extracellular matrix can mimic adenoid cystic carcinoma. WDFA has good prognosis and therefore, pre-operative cytologic diagnosis is critical to clinical management. We present the cytomorphologic features of this neoplasm with particular emphasis on a potential diagnostic pitfall of this rare entity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDiagnostic Cytopathology
StateAccepted/In press - 2016



  • Adenoid cystic carcinoma
  • Cytopathology
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Fetal adenocarcinoma
  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Hyaline globule
  • Lung cytopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

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