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CytoJournal 2012,  9:18

Parakeratotic-like cells in effusions - A clue to diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma

Department of Pathology, Division of Cytopathology, The University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, Chicago, 60637, IL, USA

Correspondence Address:
Richard M DeMay
Department of Pathology, Division of Cytopathology, The University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, Chicago, 60637, IL
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1742-6413.99170

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Background : Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an aggressive neoplasm with a poor prognosis. Its incidence has been increasing worldwide. Cytological examination of an effusion is often the first opportunity to diagnose MM. However, the cytological diagnosis of MM can be difficult. We have noticed that parakeratotic-like cells, with orange cytoplasm and pyknotic nuclei, are present in many cases of mesothelioma on Papanicolaou-stained cytology slides. Although this cytological finding has been described previously, to our knowledge, there has been no systematic study of this finding. Our study is to determine whether the presence of small parakeratotic / orangeophilic cells (PK-like cells) is specific for the cytodiagnosis of mesothelioma. Materials and Methods: A total of 90 body fluid cases were selected from our archived specimens in the Cytology Section at the University of Chicago Hospital accessioned between January 2000 to November 2011. They included 30 cases of mesothelioma, 30 cases of adenocarcinoma, and 30 cases of reactive mesothelial cells. Results: PK-like cells were present in 83% of the mesothelioma cases, 13% of the adenocarcinoma cases, and 7% of the reactive cases. Our data showed that the presence of PK-like cells has a specificity of 90%, sensitivity of 83%, positive predictive value of 81%, and negative predictive value of 84% for the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma in body cavity fluids. Conclusion: The presence of PK-like cells in the effusion specimen, especially in pleural effusions, is a highly specific and moderately sensitive cytological feature for diagnosis of mesothelioma.


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