The relationship between chronic empyema and malignant tumors, most of which are lymphoma, has been recognized for many decades. Sarcomatoid carcinoma associated with chronic empyema is extremely rare, may metastasize to other organs in the early stage, and rapidly progresses to death. As far as we know, this was the first case report on sarcomatoid carcinoma associated chronic empyema.
A 59-year-old man presented to our hospital with a 9-year history of chronic empyema and a chief complaint of left chest wall pain for 5 months. The diagnostic contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) showed a large irregular soft tissue mass located on the left lower hemithorax at the margin of the empyema cavity extending to the adjacent chest wall and lung parenchyma. In addition, CT revealed pleural and pulmonary metastases surrounded by ground glass opacity.
The patient underwent CT guided percutaneous core needle biopsy (PCNB). The histopathological evaluation showed carcinomatous proliferation of pleomorphic spindle cells with extensive necrosis. Immunohistochemically, tumor cells were positive for cytokeratin and vimentin. The final histopathological diagnosis was sarcomatoid carcinoma underlying chronic empyema. The tumors showed rapid progression on serial simple radiography. Palliative treatments were performed, but the patient still developed severe dyspnea and died shortly after on day 16.
Sarcomatoid carcinoma can occur very rarely as a complication of chronic empyema, and is more aggressive than usual. Early detection of developing malignancy during the follow-up of chronic empyema is an important factor for patient prognosis.

Copyright © 2021 the Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.