Comparison of outcomes following a cytological or histological diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma
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Background: Survival with the epithelioid subtype of malignant mesothelioma (MM) is longer than the biphasic or sarcomatoid subtypes. There is concern that cytology-diagnosed epithelioid MM may underdiagnose the biphasic subtype. This study examines survival differences between patients with epithelioid MM diagnosed by cytology only and other subtypes diagnosed by histology. Methods: Demographics, diagnosis method, MM subtype and survival were extracted from the Western Australia (WA) Mesothelioma Registry, which records details of all MM cases occurring in WA. Results: A total of 2024 MM cases were identified over 42 years. One thousand seven hundred forty-four (86.2%) were male, median (IQR) age was 68.6 (60.4–77.0) years. A total of 1212 (59.9%) cases were identified as epithelioid subtype of which 499 (41.2%) were diagnosed using fluid cytology only. Those with a cytology-only diagnosis were older than the histology group (median 70.2 vs 67.6 years, P<0.001), but median survival was similar (cytology 10.6 (5.5–19.2) vs histology 11.1 (4.8–19.8) months, P=0.727) and Cox regression modelling adjusting for age, sex, site and time since first exposure showed no difference in survival between the different diagnostic approaches. Conclusions: Survival of cytologically and histologically diagnosed epithelioid MM cases does not differ. A diagnostic tap should be considered adequate to diagnose epithelioid MM without need for further invasive testing.
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