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Am J Surg Pathol. 2005 Aug;29(8):1106-13.

Spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma in adults.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The spindle cell variant of rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is uncommon and is most often encountered in the paratesticular region of children in whom it has a good prognosis. Only isolated cases in adulthood have been described. Sixteen cases of spindle cell RMS occurring in adults were retrieved from our files. Eleven patients were male and 5 were female. Patient age ranged from 18 to 79 years (median, 32 years). Tumor size varied from 1.5 to 35 cm (median, 6 cm). The head and neck region, including the oral cavity, parotid gland, nasopharynx, and nasal cavity, was the commonest affected area, accounting for >50% of the cases, followed by retroperitoneum, thigh, leg, subscapular area, hand, vulva, and paratesticular region (1 case each). Follow-up was available in 12 cases, ranging from 1 to 102 months (median, 16.5 months). Treatment modalities included surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Two patients died of uncontrolled local disease 13 and 27 months after diagnosis; 4 were alive without disease at 12, 17, 24, and 102 months, including 1 patient with metastasis to 10 of 50 pelvic lymph nodes at presentation; 3 are alive with localized disease at 16, 17, and 19 months; and 1 was followed for 6 months and showed persistent local disease. One patient is alive at 10 months after diagnosis with evidence of metastatic disease to bone, lungs, and breast. All the tumors showed long fascicles of spindle cells with elongated, vesicular nuclei and pale indistinct cytoplasm. Scattered spindled or polygonal rhabdomyoblasts with abundant brightly eosinophilic cytoplasm were present in all cases. In 3 cases, focal areas showed pseudovascular, sclerosing features. There were no round cell or pleomorphic areas. Positive immunohistochemical results were as follows: desmin (15 of 15 cases), myf-4 (12 of 12), fast myosin (7 of 9), myoglobin (2 of 3), HHF-35 (9 of 9), and SMA (11 of 14). One tumor was focally positive for keratins and EMA. All tumors were negative for caldesmon, S-100 protein, and GFAP. Spindle cell RMS is a rare neoplasm in adults and appears to have distinct clinicopathologic features when compared with cases occurring in the pediatric population. Specifically, it appears to be most common in the head and neck region, and although only limited follow-up is available so far, these lesions appear to have a more aggressive clinical course in adults.

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