Objectives: To review the current evidence on special issues relating to the diagnosis, imaging, prognosis, and treatment of bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC).
Methods: This guideline focuses on aspects of BAC that are unique and ways in which BAC differs importantly from other forms of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The author reviewed published literature reporting on BAC using key words “histology,” “CT scans,” “fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scan,” “sensitivity,” “specificity,” “surgical resection,” “sublobar resection,” and “epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor” and selected references from published review articles. Also included was a review of the 1999 World Health Organization (WHO) revised classification system for lung tumors, which established a more restrictive definition of BAC to tumors with a pure lepidic spreading pattern and no evidence of stromal, vascular, or pleural invasion.
Results: With the notable exception of a lower likelihood of a positive positron emission tomography finding in the presence of BAC, staging, diagnosis, and treatment are the same as for other histologic subtypes of NSCLC, but additional treatment options that may prove to be equivalent, if not more effective, for more patients exist (eg, epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy, sublobar resection).
Conclusions: BAC is a form of adenocarcinoma with unique clinical, radiologic, and epidemiologic features. The diagnosis of BAC should be reserved for tumors that meet the WHO criteria. Additional clinical trials are needed on this population of patients, using strict definitions and enrollment criteria to allow the results to be applied to appropriate patient populations.