Management of ground-glass opacities in the lung cancer spectrum

Lung Cancer

Zhang Y, et al. Ann Thorac Surg 2020 - Review.


BACKGROUND: Along with the popularity of low-dose computed tomography lung cancer screening, an increasing number of lung ground-glass opacity (GGO) lesions are detected. This review focuses on lung adenocarcinoma manifesting as GGO.

METHODS: We performed a literature search of the PubMed/MEDLINE database to identify articles reporting GGO. The following terms were used: GGO, ground-glass opacity, GGN, ground-glass nodule, part-solid nodule, and subsolid nodule.

RESULTS: GGO is a non-specific radiologic finding showing a hazy opacity without blocking underlying pulmonary vessels or bronchial structures. The pathology of GGO can be benign, pre-invasive or invasive adenocarcinoma. Although radiographic features may indicate malignancy, a short period of follow-up is the optimal method to distinguish between benign and malignant GGO lesions. Pathologically, not only lepidic but also non-lepidic growth patterns can present as GGO. Lung adenocarcinoma with GGO component is associated with excellent survival compared to solid lesions. Moreover, there are distinct prognostic factors in patients with lung adenocarcinoma manifesting as GGO or solid lesions. For selected GGO-featured lung adenocarcinoma, sublobar resection with selective or no mediastinal lymph node dissection may be sufficient. Intraoperative frozen section is an effective method to guide resection strategy. A less-intensive postoperative surveillance strategy may be more appropriate given the excellent survival. Management of multiple GGO lesions requires comprehensive considerations of GGO characteristics and patient conditions.

CONCLUSIONS: Lung adenocarcinoma manifesting as GGO defines a special clinical subtype with excellent prognosis. The management of GGO-featured lung adenocarcinoma should be distinct from that of solid lesions.