News Release

Large-scale investigation supports modified classification system for pulmonary adenocarcinomas

Reports and Proceedings

International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer

Dr. Erik Thunnissen, Department of Pathology, Amsterdam UMC, VU Medical Center, Amsterdam

image: Dr. Erik Thunnissen, Department of Pathology, Amsterdam UMC, VU Medical Center, Amsterdam, view more 

Credit: Dr. Erik Thunnissen, Department of Pathology, Amsterdam UMC, VU Medical Center, Amsterdam,

(Singapore – 10:05 a.m. SGT--September 11, 2023) – A modified adenocarcinoma classification approach significantly enhances reproducibility and may be an improvement on the existing World Health Organization classification system, according to research unveiled at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 2023 World Conference on Lung Cancer in Singapore.

The study, led by Dr. Erik Thunnissen, Department of Pathology, Amsterdam UMC, VU Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, was born out of the IASLC Pathology Committee’s acknowledgment of challenges in accurately assigning invasion status based on the criteria outlined in the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of pulmonary adenocarcinomas. The objective was to establish a baseline and investigate the potential for an improved classification system, aided by biomarker analysis.

Dr. Thunnissen and colleagues conducted a case-control study involving resected adenocarcinomas measuring up to 3 cm (n=70), the research evaluated the potential of a modified classification system. The modified classification factored in iatrogenic collapsed adenocarcinoma in situ, identified through elastin and cytokeratin 7 staining. Pathologists initially assessed the cases according to the WHO criteria and then underwent a tutorial, after which they scored the cases based on the modified classification. A heatmap analysis was conducted to identify areas commonly or less frequently identified as invasive.

The study drew participation from 42 pathologists across 13 countries who scored the cases in three rounds. The kappa values for the three rounds were 0.27, 0.45, and 0.62, respectively. These results indicated that the standard WHO criteria for determining invasion faced challenges in achieving consistent and reproducible results.

However, the modified classification exhibited notably higher reproducibility. Pathologists displayed a more significant increase in competence, reflected by a higher kappa score, both when evaluated blindly (0.45) and with guidance (0.62). The outcomes suggested that the revised classification overcomes the limitations of the WHO criteria, thereby addressing concerns about inconsistent assessments.

Importantly, the research revealed that cases scored with "no-invasion" consensus in the second and third rounds achieved a 100% recurrence-free survival (RFS) rate. The diagnosis of adenocarcinoma in situ after resection with the modified classification implies that the patient is cured. In contrast, with the diagnosis of invasive adenocarcinoma in these cases based on the WHO classification, the patient has to bear the anxiety of a chance of recurrence.

Further bolstering the modified classification, biomarker analyses associated with invasion and poor outcomes were conducted. These analyses unveiled intriguing correlations, including a low proliferation rate in adenocarcinoma in situ compared to invasive adenocarcinomas and the presence of TP53 mutations in invasive adenocarcinomas, underscoring their role as late-stage events.

"Our findings suggest that the modified adenocarcinoma classification significantly enhances reproducibility and aligns better with the clinical reality. These results open new avenues for refining our understanding of these cancers and improving patient care,” Dr. Thunnissen reported.

"These findings could enable a more confident diagnosis and treatment decisions for patients with pulmonary adenocarcinomas,” he said.

About the IASLC:

The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization dedicated solely to the study of lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies. Founded in 1974, the association's membership includes more than 8,000 lung cancer specialists across all disciplines in over 100 countries, forming a global network working together to conquer lung and thoracic cancers worldwide. The association also publishes the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the primary educational and informational publication for topics relevant to the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of all thoracic malignancies. Visit for more information.

About the WCLC:

The WCLC is the world’s largest meeting dedicated to lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies, attracting more than 7,000 researchers, physicians, and specialists from more than 100 countries. The goal is to increase awareness, collaboration, and understanding of lung cancer, and to help participants implement the latest developments across the globe. The conference will cover a wide range of disciplines and unveil several research studies and clinical trial results. For more information, visit

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.