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Am J Surg Pathol. 2001 Sep;25(9):1121-33.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors, intramural leiomyomas, and leiomyosarcomas in the rectum and anus: a clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical, and molecular genetic study of 144 cases.

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  • 1Department of Soft Tissue Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC 20306-6000, USA.


Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), the specific KIT-positive mesenchymal tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, have been sporadically reported in the rectum, but there are few clinicopathologic series. In this study we analyzed the clinicopathologic features of 133 anorectal GISTs, 3 intramural leiomyomas (LMs), and 8 leiomyosarcomas (LMSs) from the files of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and the Haartman Institute of the University of Helsinki. Ninety-six GISTs were documented as KIT-positive and three additional ones as CD34-positive. Thirty-four tumors were included by their histologic similarity to KIT- or CD34-positive cases. GIST-specific c-kit gene mutations, mostly in exon 11, were documented in 18 of 29 cases (62%). The GISTs occurred in adults with the age range of 17-90 years (median 60 years) with a significant male predominance (71%). The tumors ranged from small asymptomatic intramural nodules to large masses that bulged into pelvis causing pain, rectal bleeding, or obstruction. They were mostly highly cellular spindle cell tumors; four tumors had an epithelioid morphology. The tumors coexpressed CD34 and KIT and were rarely positive for smooth muscle actin or desmin and never for S-100 protein. Seventy percent of patients with tumors >5 cm with more than 5 mitoses/50 high power fields (HPF) (n = 31) died of disease, whereas only one tumor <2 cm with <5 mitoses/50 HPF (n = 21) recurred and none caused death. Long latency was common between primary operation and recurrences and metastases; either one occurred in 60 of 111 patients with follow-up (54%). Distant metastases were in the liver, bones, and lungs. Three benign actin- and desmin-positive and KIT-negative intramural LMs, similar to those seen in the esophagus, were identified. There were eight LMSs, six of which formed a polypoid intraluminal mass and were actin-positive and KIT-negative. Despite high mitotic counts, only one LMS patient died of disease. A great majority of rectal smooth muscle and stromal tumors are GISTs, which have a spectrum from minimal indolent tumors to overt sarcomas. Intramural LMs are exceptional, and true LMSs are rare, and similar to colonic ones, often present as intraluminal polypoid masses that appear to have a better prognosis than GISTs with similar mitotic rates.

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