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Respirology. 2006 Sep;11(5):539-45.

Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the lung.

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University Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong SAR, China.


Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma (LELC) of the lung was first reported in 1987. In the past two decades, there have been just more than 150 cases reported in the literature. This uncommon but distinct form of non-small cell lung carcinoma has a predilection for young non-smoking Asians, without gender distinction. Histologically, it is indistinguishable from undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma. The carcinogenic role of latent Epstein-Barr virus infection in causing LELC of the lung has been evident almost exclusively in Asians compared with Caucasians. Among the reported cases, more than half were in early resectable stages (I or II) and there was a tendency for peribronchovascular spread with vascular encasement in advanced diseases. In order to establish the diagnosis of LELC of the lung, both nasopharyngeal carcinoma and lymphoma have to be excluded by endoscopic biopsy (with or without magnetic resonance imaging of the nasopharynx) and immunohistochemical staining of the biopsy samples. The mainstay of treatment for early-stage disease is curative surgical resection, whereas multimodality treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy) has been adopted in advanced or metastatic diseases. The overall survival is more favourable in LELC of the lung compared with non-LELC type of non-small cell lung carcinoma. Future collaborative studies especially on optimizing treatment for this uncommon malignancy are clearly warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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