Overlap of nuclear diameters in lung cancer cells

T. K. Lee, J. F. Silverman, R. D. Horner, C. W. Scarantino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The nuclear diameters (NDs) of randomly selected malignant cells from 35 cases of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC; 4,370 nuclei) and 31 cases of non-SCLC (NSCLC; 1,280 nuclei) were measured on the pretreatment tissue sections by ocular micrometry. The mean ND (±standard deviation) of malignant cells for SCLC patients was 8.1±1.5 μm; these cases included 23 oat-cell carcinomas and 12 intermediate-cell carcinomas. The ND of malignant cells for NSCLC patients was 12.8±2.2 μm; these cases included 17 squamous-cell carcinomas, 12 adenocarcinomas and 2 large-cell carcinomas. The differences of ND between SCLC and NSCLC and between intermediate-cell cancer and NSCLC were highly significant (P=0.001). However, the malignant cells of 36 (54.5%) of the 66 lung cancer patients had NDs that overlapped in the range of 8 μm to 13 μm. For the 12 intermediate-cell patients, the NDs of the malignant cells overlapped with those of 8 (66.7%) of the 12 adenocarcinomas and 10 (58.8%) of the 17 squamous carcinomas. In contrast, the NDs of only 5 (21.7%) of the oat-cell patients overlapped with those of 5 (41.7%) of the 12 intermediate-cell cases and showed no overlap with NSCLC cases. Since there is overlapping of the nuclear diameters of malignant cells between SCLC and NSCLC patients, nuclear parameters other than the diameter are necessary to differentiate these two major histologic types of lung cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-278
Number of pages4
JournalAnalytical and Quantitative Cytology and Histology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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