Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma of the head and neck region in older adults: genetic characterization and a review of the literature

Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-3135, USA.
Human pathology (Impact Factor: 2.77). 11/2008; 40(3):341-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.humpath.2008.08.006
Source: PubMed


Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is remarkably rare in adults older than 45 years. Initial immunoprofiling of a small cell neoplasm of the head and neck region in an older adult may not include myogenic markers. A valuable diagnostic aid and important prognostic parameter in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is the identification of PAX3-FOXO1 [t(2;13)(q35;q14)] or PAX7-FOXO1 [t(1;13)(p36;q14)] rearrangements. The purpose of this study was to document the clinicopathologic, immunophenotypic, and genetic features of head/neck alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma in older adults. Prior isolated descriptions of 3 patients were included. Five patients were female and 2 male (median age, 61 years). Each neoplasm was composed of undifferentiated, small round cells in a predominantly solid pattern. Initially, ordered immunostains corresponded with early diagnostic impressions of a hematologic malignancy or neuroendocrine carcinoma. CD56 was positive in 5 of 5 tumors and synaptophysin in 1 of 6. Given the virtual absence of other lymphoid or epithelial markers, muscle immunostains were performed and these were positive. Definitive alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma diagnoses were confirmed genetically. This study illustrates the diagnosis of head/neck alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma in older adults is complicated by its rarity, lack of an alveolar pattern, and a potentially misleading immunoprofile (CD56 and synaptophysin immunoreactivity) if myogenic markers are not used. Both PAX3- and PAX7-FOXO1 alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas were identified in these patients. In children, PAX7-FOXO1 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is associated with a significantly longer event-free survival. In contrast, adult alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma behaves more aggressively with a worse overall survival than pediatric alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Further follow-up and additional cases are required to assess the prognostic relevance of these fusion transcripts in the context of advanced age.

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    • "RMS is a malignant tumor with striated muscle differentiation deriving from primitive mesenchyme [1] that retains its capacity for skeletal muscle differentiation [2]. RMS was first described in the English literature in 1937 and in 1992 in children as a tumor mainly composed of bundles of cells with myogenic differentiation by immunohistochemical and ultrastructural analysis. "
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    • "Mitoses are typically absent [4]. Adult embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma has possibly unique molecular characteristics, nevertheless it has not been defined yet [5]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Rhabdomyosarcoma is a solid tumor, resulting from dysregulation of the skeletal myogenesis program. For rhabdomyosarcomas (RMS) with a predilection for the head and neck, genitourinary tract, extremities, trunk, retroperitoneum, the larynx is still an unusual site. Till now only several cases of this laryngeal tumor have been described in world literature in the adult population. The entire spectrum of genetic factors underlying RMS development and progression is unclear until today. Multiple signaling pathways seem to be involved in ERMS development and progression. In this paper we report an interesting RMS case in which the disease was located within the glottic region. We report an embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma of the larynx in 33 year-old man. After unsuccessful chemotherapy hemilaryngectomy was performed. In follow up CT no signs of recurrence were found. Recently patient is recurrence free for 62 months. Considering the histological diagnosis and the highly aggressive nature of the lesion for optimal diagnosis positron electron tomography (PET) and computerized tomography (CT) of the neck and thorax should be performed. At this time surgical treatment with adjuvant radiotherapy seems to be the treatment of choice for this disease. Rhabdomyosarcoma of the larynx has a better prognosis than elsewhere in the body, probably because of its earlier recognition and accessibility to radical surgery.
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