In the late stages of non-small cell lung cancer, the detection of sensitizing mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is mandatory to select patients’ treatment with first- or second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). In patients showing progressive disease, the assessment of the EGFR exon 20 resistance point mutation p.T790M is required for third-generation TKI administration. However, molecular analysis does not capture all the different mechanisms of resistance against these molecules. A variety of morphological changes associated with acquired resistance have also been described. Since an altered morphology may be the only clue to acquired resistance, cytopathology still plays a relevant role in this setting. In this comprehensive review, we have focused on the relevance of squamous cell carcinoma, small cell lung cancer and large-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma transitions from adenocarcinoma resistant to TKIs.

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