Interobserver variation in the assessment of the sarcomatoid and transitional components in biphasic mesotheliomas

Sanja Dacic, Nolwenn Le Stang, Aliya Husain, Birgit Weynand, Mary Beth Beasley, Kelly Butnor, David Chapel, Allen Gibbs, Sonja Klebe, Sylvie Lantuejoul, Anja C. Roden, Victor Roggli, Henry Tazelaar, Jean Michel Vignaud, Françoise Galateau-Sallé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The percentage of sarcomatoid component has an impact on prognosis in patients with biphasic malignant pleural mesothelioma. Recent study showed that the transitional pattern similar to sarcomatoid component of malignant mesothelioma has negative prognostic significance. Practice guidelines recommend quantification of sarcomatoid component despite poor diagnostic reproducibility of biphasic mesothelioma among thoracic pathologists. The aim of this study was to determine the interobserver agreement in the quantification of sarcomatoid component, and in the diagnosis of a transitional component in the biphasic malignant mesothelioma. Thirteen experts in thoracic pathology reviewed the representative H&E and cytokeratin whole-slide images of the 54 biphasic mesotheliomas, without knowledge of BAP1 or p16 deletion status, and completed the survey of 25 questions. The overall interobserver agreement in the assessment of the percentage of the sarcomatoid component in 25% increments was good (wK = 0.62). Excellent agreement was present in 14 of 54 cases (26%), and 3 cases were unanimously scored. Excellent agreement was reached for the cases with 0–24% and > 75% of the sarcomatoid component.The most commonly used criteria for the diagnosis of sarcomatoid component were malignant spindle cells, frank sarcomatoid features and high N/C ratio. The overall interobserver agreement for transitional pattern was fair (wK = 0.40). Unanimous opinion about the absence of transitional pattern was observed in only one case. At least 70% agreement regarding the presence of transitional pattern was observed in 12 cases, with the rest of the cases showing a wide range of disagreement. Morphologic characteristics that favor transitional pattern over non-transitional include sheet-like growth of cohesive, plump, elongated epithelioid cells with well-defined cell borders and a tendency to transition into spindle cells. Our study defined precise morphologic criteria that may be used in the differential diagnosis between transitional pattern and other mesothelioma subtypes including sarcomatoid and epithelioid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-262
Number of pages8
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • mesothelioma
  • Translational research


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