Cavitating pulmonary metastases

Last revised by Bahman Rasuli on 21 Sep 2022

Cavitating pulmonary metastases refer to pulmonary metastases which then tend to cavitate. The term is similar but may not be identical to cystic pulmonary metastases in which the wall of the former may be thicker.

Cavitation is thought to occur in around 4% of lung metastases 2.

Cavitary pulmonary metastases are most commonly (70%) caused by squamous cell carcinoma, which may of the lung or head and neck 1,4,6. Other primaries are varied and include:

Cavitating pulmonary metastases have also been reported to develop after chemotherapy, thought to be secondary to tumor necrosis or a valve-effect on an adjacent bronchi 4,5

One particular complication that can occur includes the formation of a pneumothorax or a hemopneumothorax.

For multiple cavitating lung lesions (nodules or masses) on imaging consider:

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: gross pathology
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  • Case 1: likely cavitatory metastases
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  • Case 2: from squamous cell carcinoma of floor of mouth
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  • Case 3: from rectal adenocarcinoma
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  • Case 4: melanoma
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  • Case 5: head and neck primary
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