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Adv Anat Pathol. 2000 Sep;7(5):257-81.

Endometrial stromal tumors: an update on a group of tumors with a protean phenotype.

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Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Endometrial stromal tumors are reviewed with emphasis on their wide morphologic spectrum and problems in differential diagnosis, highlighting issues that have received particular attention in the recent literature. These neoplasms are divided into two major categories--endometrial stromal nodules and endometrial stromal sarcomas--a distinction made on the basis of the lack of significant infiltration at the periphery of the former. The division of endometrial stromal sarcomas into low-grade and high-grade categories has fallen out of favor and the designation endometrial stromal sarcoma is now considered best restricted to neoplasms that were formally referred to as "low-grade" stromal sarcoma. Endometrial sarcomas without recognizable evidence of a definite endometrial stromal phenotype, designated poorly differentiated "endometrial sarcomas," are almost invariably high grade and often resemble the mesenchymal component of a malignant mullerian mixed tumor. Two features of endometrial stromal tumors that may cause confusion are smooth muscle differentiation and epithelial patterns. Cases in the former category often have a characteristic "starburst" pattern of collagen formation. The most common epithelial patterns resemble those seen in ovarian sex-cord stromal tumors. Much less common is endometrioid gland differentiation. Some endometrial stromal tumors have a prominent fibrous or myxoid appearance and the myxoid tumors should be distinguished from myxoid leiomyosarcoma. Other unusual features of endometrial stromal tumors are also discussed. Lesions in the differential diagnosis of uterine endometrial stromal neoplasms include highly cellular leiomyoma, cellular intravenous leiomyomatosis, adenomyosis with sparse glands, metastatic carcinoma, and lymphoma. Endometrial stromal sarcomas at extrauterine sites may be primary or metastatic from a uterine tumor, the latter sometimes being occult and difficult to definitively establish, particularly if there is a history of a remote hysterectomy for "leiomyomas." Endometrial stromal sarcomas of the ovary, whether primary or metastatic, may be difficult to distinguish from ovarian sex-cord stromal tumors. Extragenital endometrial stromal sarcomas may be confused with diverse lesions such as gastrointestinal stromal tumors, hemangiopericytoma, lymphangiomyomatosis, or mesenchymal cystic hamartoma of the lung. Immunohistochemistry may play a role in evaluating these tumors and in some instances establishing the diagnosis although conventional light microscopic analysis suffices in the majority of cases. The unusual tumor, the "uterine tumor resembling an ovarian sex-cord tumor," is also considered in this review as it is almost certainly of endometrial stromal derivation in many cases. These neoplasms may have a striking resemblance to granulosa cell tumors or Sertoli cell tumors, including those with a retiform pattern, and have recently been shown to be frequently inhibin positive.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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