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Am J Surg Pathol. 2005 Aug;29(8):1025-33.

Morphologic and immunophenotypic diversity in Ewing family tumors: a study of 66 genetically confirmed cases.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


More than 85% of Ewing sarcoma/primitive neuroectodermal tumor (ES/PNET), or "Ewing family of tumors" (EFTs), have the translocation, t (11;22) (q24;q12), with others having variant translocations. Identification of these by cytogenetic and/or molecular genetic techniques is specific for EFT and is increasingly recognized as the "gold standard" for diagnosis. However, these techniques are not universally available. We therefore studied a large group of genetically confirmed EFTs to more completely understand the morphologic and immunophenotypic spectrum of this rare sarcoma. Sixty-six cytogenetically, FISH or RT-PCR proven-EFTs were retrieved. In 56 cases, immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed for pan-cytokeratins (PanCK), high molecular weight cytokeratins (HMWCK), desmin (DES), CD99, CD117, and FLI1 protein using heat-induced epitope retrieval and the Dako Envision system. The cases arose chiefly in children and young adults (median 18 years; range, 3-65 years) of both sexes (male, 32; female, 31; unknown, 3) in a variety of bone (N = 39) and soft tissue (N = 27) sites. Histologically, 46 cases (73%) showed only typical features of ES, 9 cases (16%) showed features of PNET, 3 cases (5%) showed "adamantinoma-like" features, 3 cases (5%) corresponded to "atypical Ewing sarcoma," 3 cases (5%) showed principally intersecting fascicles of spindled cells, and 2 cases had abundant hyalinized matrix. IHC results were as follows: PanCK (18 of 56, 32%), HMWCK (3 of 55, 5%), DES (1 of 56, 2%), CD99 (52 of 52, 100%), CD117 (13 of 54, 24%), and FLI1 (44 of 47, 94%). HMWCK was expressed only in "adamantinoma-like" EFTs, none of which expressed DES. In conclusion, most, but not all, EFTs can be accurately diagnosed using time-honored morphologic criteria and ancillary immunohistochemistry. However, genetic confirmation remains essential for the diagnosis of unusual morphologic variants of EFT, including "adamantinoma-like," spindled, sclerosing, and clear cell/anaplastic variants. Therefore, to exclude or confirm the diagnosis of Ewing's sarcoma in round cell sarcomas having a variety of patterns but not specifically conforming to a tumor of known lineage (eg, rhabdomyosarcoma), cytogenetics, and/or molecular analysis is required.

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