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Am J Surg Pathol. 1992 Mar;16(3):229-35.

Spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma. A prognostically favorable variant of rhabdomyosarcoma.

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  • 1Institute of Pathology, Padua University, Italy.


Twenty-one cases of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, composed mainly of elongated spindle cells arranged in a fasciculated or storiform pattern, were retrieved from the files of the German-Italian Cooperative Soft Tissue Sarcoma Study. The term spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma is proposed to designate this histotype. Spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma predilected male patients (18 males, three females) and involved mostly the paratesticular area (12 cases) and the head and neck region (six cases). Histologically, all cases were characterized by a uniform proliferation of elongated spindle cells with eosinophilic and fibrillar cytoplasm mimicking smooth muscle fibers; immunocytochemical studies disclosed high expression of the muscle markers titin, desmin, and myoglobin. Clinical information was available in 17 cases; according to the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study (IRS) grouping system, 13 were classified in group I, two in group II, and two in group III. Sixteen patients were well and alive 24 to 100 months after diagnosis; one patient died from disease progression 24 months after diagnosis. Analysis of our results determined that spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma constitutes a rare variant of the embryonal form, showing a high degree of skeletal muscle differentiation and a low malignant potential; it should therefore be distinguished from classical forms of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma.

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