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Tuberc Respir Dis. 1998 Apr;45(2):311-321. Korean. Original Article.
Kim YJ , Park JY , Shin MC , Bae MS , Kim JS , Chae SC , Park TI , Kim CH , Jung TH .
Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine Kyunpook National University, Taegu, Korea.
Department of Pathology, School of Medicine Kyunpook National University, Taegu, Korea.

BACKGROUND: Mucoepidermoid carcinoma of the lung arises from submucosal gland of tracheobronchial tree. Histologically, the tumor is composed of mucin-secreting cells, squamous cells, and intermediated cells, which show no particular differentiating characteristics, in varying proportions. The tumor is divided into low grade and high grade depending on the proportion of cells, and the degree of the mitotic activity, cellular necrosis and nuclear pleomorphism. While favorable prognosis of low grade tumor, high grade tumor, which is very difficult to differentiate from adenosquamous carcinoma, has an aggressive clinical course. The tumor is rare, comprising 0.1 to 0.2% of primary lung cancers and 1 to 5% of bronchial adenomas. METHOD: A retrospective clinical study was done on 17 cases of mucoepidermoid carcinoma. The study investigated the clinical features, radiologic findings, bronchoscopic findings, histology and clinical courses. RESULTS: Age ranged between second to seventh decade with a mean age of 42 years. Twelve out of 17 cases were male. Five out of 17 cases were smokers with a mean 11 pack-years. Common symptoms included dyspnea, cough, hemoptysis, and wheezing. Two out of 17 cases was asymptomatic. Atelectasis or mass was common radiologic finding. Plain chest radiography was normal in one patient whom the tumor was located in upper trachea. Bonchoscopy revealed exophytic mass in 12 cases and nodular infiltrations in 4 cases. One case having solitary pulmonary nodule in the right lower lung was normal on bronchoscopy. Histologically, ten out of 17 cases were low grade, and seven out of 17 cases were high grade. Among 10 patients with low grade tumor, 9 patients were performed operation and have been alive without recurrence during a mean follow-up of 30 months. Two out of 7 patients with high grade tumor were performed pneumonectomy and have been alive during a follow-up of 3 and 8 months, respectively. CONCLUSION: Most of mucoepidermoid carcinoma is located at central airway and is presented symptoms by mucosal irirtation. Although atelectasis or mass is common radiologic finding, chest X-ray can be normal. The histologic grading and the extent of tumor are two most important factors for prognosis.

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