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An unusual case of a microscopic alveolar adenoma coexisting with lung carcinoma: a case report and review of the literature

Tapan Bhavsar1*, Guldeep Uppal1, John M Travaline2, Colleen Gaughan3, Yajue Huang1 and Jasvir S Khurana1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA, USA

3 Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2011, 5:187  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-5-187

Published: 18 May 2011



Alveolar adenomas are extremely rare, benign, primary lung tumors of unknown histogenesis that are characterized by proliferative type II alveolar epithelium and septal mesenchyma. Mostly incidental, they are clinically important as they can imitate benign primary and secondary malignant tumors and at times are difficult to differentiate from early-stage lung cancer. We describe the case of a 59-year-old man with an incidental microscopic alveolar adenoma coexisting with poorly differentiated lung carcinoma.

Case presentation

A 59-year-old Caucasian man with a medical history of smoking and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was incidentally found to have a right upper lobe mass while undergoing a computed tomographic chest scan as part of a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease clinical trial. Our patient underwent a right upper lobectomy after a bronchoscopic biopsy of the mass revealed the mass to be a carcinoma. A pathological examination revealed an incidental, small, 0.2 cm, well circumscribed lesion on the staple line margin of the lobectomy in addition to the carcinoma. Histopathological and immunohistochemical examinations revealed the lesion to be an alveolar adenoma.


We report the rare presentation of a microscopic alveolar adenoma coexisting with lung carcinoma. Alveolar adenoma is an entirely benign incidental neoplasm that can be precisely diagnosed using immunohistochemical analysis in addition to its unique histopathological characteristics.