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Clin Exp Metastasis. 2010 Aug;27(6):399-407. doi: 10.1007/s10585-010-9335-y. Epub 2010 Jun 2.

Childhood rhabdomyosarcoma metastatic to bone marrow presenting with disseminated intravascular coagulation and acute tumour lysis syndrome: review of the literature apropos of two cases.

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Department of Paediatrics, Haematology, Oncology and Endocrinology, Medical University of Gdansk, 80-211 Gdansk, Poland.


The paper presents diagnostic and therapeutic difficulties in two adolescents with widespread rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) presenting with severe haemorrhages resulting from disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and with laboratory features of acute tumour lysis syndrome (ATLS). Other published cases of childhood RMS with DIC at admission have been listed and reviewed. It has been concluded that the clinical picture of a widespread RMS in children may resemble acute hematologic malignancy and pose a big diagnostic problem. That is why the presence of small blue round cells morphologically similar to lymphoblasts and/or myeloblasts in bone marrow (BM), lacking hematopoietic makers, should prompt the pathologist to consider possible diagnosis of RMS. Inclusion of desmin, MyoD1 and myogenin Myf4 to the immunohistochemical panel is obligatory in such cases. When the representative histopathological tumour specimens are difficult to obtain, the flow cytometric immunophenotyping of BM metastases could help the standard morphological/immunohistological diagnostic procedures and advance the diagnosis. Recently, the flow cytometric CD45- CD56+ immunophenotype together with Myf4 transcript has been assigned to RMS cells infiltrating BM. In children with disseminated RMS complicated with DIC rapid polychemotherapy aimed at diminishing the malignancy-triggered procoagulant activity should be initiated. However, in cases with concomitant ATLS the initial doses of chemotherapy should be reduced and the metabolic disorders and renal function monitored. The prognosis in children with RMS metastatic to BM with signs of DIC or ATLS at admission depends on the response to chemotherapy, however generally it is highly disappointing.

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