Signet ring adenocarcinoma metastatic to the bronchus and mimicking goblet cell hyperplasia. A case report.
BACKGROUND: Goblet cells in the lower respiratory tract are metaplastic bronchial epithelial cells usually associated with asthma or chronic bronchitis. Goblet cells acquire their name by a tendency to distend with mucus, with subsequent distortion in cell shape. Due to similarity of shape, metaplastic goblet cells and signet ring cells can be easily confused in cytologic samples. CASE: A 55-year-old male with a history of gastrointestinal adenocarcinoma underwent brushing, washing and biopsy of a bronchial lesion. The bronchial wash and brush samples showed a very cellular specimen, with large aggregates of distended columnar cells. These were arranged in long strips, thick bundles and occasional three-dimensional aggregates. Some aggregates contained numerous rounded cells with markedly distended cytoplasm. The rounded cells were slightly larger than the distended columnar cells. These cells had a relatively large but innocuous-appearing nucleus displaced to the periphery of the cell. The corresponding bronchial biopsy revealed signet ring adenocarcinoma, presumably metastatic from the gastrointestinal primary. CONCLUSION: Signet ring adenocarcinoma, either primary or metastatic, can be difficult to diagnose in cytologic and histologic specimens. There are numerous mimics of signet ring cells, both benign and neoplastic. In respiratory cytologic specimens, one of the benign imposters is goblet cell metaplasia.
Dodd, LG; Moore, WF; Eedes, CR
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