Introduction Lung cancer with large cyst formation is relatively rare. This is a case report of a patient with lung cystic adenocarcinoma with multiple histologic patterns. This type of lung adenocarcinoma is believed to be the first reported case in English language medical literature. Case presentation A 60-year-old Japanese woman was admitted to hospital complaining of dyspnea and died of respiratory failure. She had been suffering from lung cancer with pleural effusion for five years. Autopsy analysis revealed lung adenocarcinoma with large cyst formation showing a variety of histologic patterns. Conclusions Autopsy analysis of this atypical case of lung cancer may provide insight and lead to a better understanding of the heterogeneity and clonal expansion of lung adenocarcinoma.