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Am J Surg Pathol. 2004 Mar;28(3):298-307.

Angiosarcoma involving the gastrointestinal tract: a series of primary and metastatic cases.

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  • 1Department of Anatomic Pathology, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Angiosarcoma occurs very rarely in the intestinal tract as either a primary or metastatic malignancy and can present great diagnostic difficulty, especially when it displays epithelioid cytomorphology. Since only isolated case reports have been published, the purpose of this study is to more fully delineate the histopathological and clinical features from a series of 8 angiosarcomas involving the gastrointestinal tract. There were 5 male and 3 female patients whose ages ranged from 25-85 years (median 57). Presenting symptoms included intestinal bleeding, anemia and pain. Five cases involved the small bowel and 3 involved the colon/rectum. Four cases were primary to the intestinal tract, 2 patients initially presented with secondary involvement of the large bowel from occult retroperitoneal primaries, 1 patient presented with disseminated disease including small bowel involvement, and 1 case was metastatic from a breast primary. Seven cases were composed predominantly of sheets of malignant appearing epithelioid cells with subtle areas forming cleft-like spaces suggestive of vascular differentiation. Immunohistochemical studies revealed the lesional cells to be immunoreactive for CD31 (8/8), CD34 (8/8), Factor VIII (8/8), cytokeratins AE1/AE3 (7/8), cytokeratin 7 (2/8), Cam5.2/cytokeratin 8 (5/8), and cytokeratin 19 (5/8). Cytokeratin 20 was negative in all eight cases, which contrasts sharply with the characteristic positivity for cytokeratin 20 in virtually all intestinal carcinomas. One case was weakly and focally positive for EMA and all cases were negative for S-100 protein. Cytokeratin staining was variable and ranged from focal to extensive. Follow-up was available in eight cases and ranged from 1-33 months (median 12.5). Five patients died of disease, between 1 and 33 months (median 6) after diagnosis. One recently diagnosed patient is alive with disease 18 months after diagnosis, and one patient is free of disease 27 months after original diagnosis. Angiosarcomas of the gastrointestinal tract commonly display epithelioid cytomorphology, may be diffusely and strongly positive for cytokeratins and only show subtle signs of vascular differentiation, creating potential diagnostic confusion with primary or metastatic carcinoma. Given the clinically aggressive behavior of angiosarcoma, proper classification and treatment is important. Immunohistochemistry with vascular markers, CK20, and S-100 protein may be helpful in differentiating angiosarcoma from carcinoma and melanoma.

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