The concept of mesothelioma in situ, with consideration of its potential impact on cytology diagnosis

Sonja Klebe, Yukio Nakatani, Katalin Dobra, Kelly J. Butnor, Anja C. Roden, Andrew G. Nicholson, Alberto M. Marchevsky, Aliya N. Husain, Amanda Segal, Ann E. Walts, Birgit Weynand, Claire W. Michael, Sanja Dacic, David Godbolt, Richard Attanoos, Eric Santoni-Rugiu, Françoise Galateau-Salle, Kenzo Hiroshima, Andre L. Moreira, Juliet BurnKazuki Nabeshima, Allen R. Gibbs, Andrew Churg, Leslie A. Litzky, Luka Brcic, Ming Sound Tsao, Mari Mino-Kenudson, Sara B. Rørvig, Henry D. Tazelaar, Thomas Krausz, Yu Zhi Zhang, Lucian R. Chirieac, Mary B. Beasley, Anders Hjerpe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Diffuse malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an incurable tumour of the serosal membranes, which is often caused by exposure to asbestos and commonly diagnosed at advanced stage. Malignant mesothelioma in situ (MMIS) is now included as diagnostic category by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, our international survey of 34 pulmonary pathologists with an interest in MM diagnosis highlights inconsistency regarding how the diagnosis is being made by experts, despite published guidelines. Whilst the WHO restricts the diagnosis to surgical samples, the very concept has implication for cytological diagnosis, which is already regarded as controversial in itself by some. MMIS is currently only applicable as precursor to MM with an epithelioid component, and raises the possibility for different molecular pathways for different histological MM subtypes. The clinical implications of MMIS at this stage are uncertain, but aggressive therapies are being initiated in some instances. Based on the results of the survey we here present a critical appraisal of the concept, its clinical and conceptual implications and provide practice suggestions for diagnosis. A low threshold for ancillary testing is suggested. The designations of ‘malignant mesothelioma, cannot exclude MMIS’ or ‘atypical mesothelial proliferation with molecular indicators of malignancy, so-called MMIS’ could be used on cytology samples, adding ‘no evidence of invasion in sample provided’ for surgical samples. Clinical and radiological correlation are integral to diagnosis and best done at multidisciplinary meetings. Finally, collaborative studies are required to improve our understanding of MMIS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-453
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • cytology diagnosis
  • Diffuse malignant mesothelioma
  • early diagnosis
  • mesothelioma in situ
  • WHO


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