Clear Cell Sarcoma of Soft Tissue: A Clinicopathologic, Immunohistochemical, and Molecular Analysis of 33 Cases

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Clear cell sarcoma (CCS) of soft tissue is a rare sarcoma with morphologic similarities to malignant melanoma but a distinct genetic background including a chromosomal translocation, t(12;22)(q13;q12), or a resultant EWSR1-ATF1 fusion gene. In addition, the tumors occurring in the gastrointestinal tract may have a variant fusion gene EWSR1-CREB1. This study analyzed the clinicopathologic and molecular genetic features of 33 CCSs of soft tissue. The patients' ages ranged from 13 to 73 years (median, 30 y), and there was a male predominance (20 males, 13 females). The tumors were located in the deep soft tissues of the extremities (N=25) or in the trunk or limb girdles (N=8). The median tumor size was 4 cm (range, 1 to 15 cm). The tumor cells were either spindle or epithelioid, and they were arranged predominantly in a short fascicular (N=19) or a solid sheetlike growth pattern (N=14). Minor histologic variations included the existence of rhabdoid cells (N=8), bizarre pleomorphic cells (N=6), alveolar structures due to loss of cellular cohesion (N=3), and a seminomalike pattern (N=2). Tumor necrosis was evident in 14 tumors, and the mitotic activity ranged from 0 to 43 mitotic figures (MF)/10 high-power fields (HPF) (mean: 4 MF/10 HPF). Immunohistochemically, the tumors were consistently positive for S-100 protein (33/33) and variably or focally for HMB45 (32/33), microphthalmia transcription factor (26/32), Melan A (23/32), CD57 (25/33), bcl-2 (30/32), synaptophysin (14/32), CD56 (7/32), epithelial membrane antigen (12/33), cytokeratin (AE1/AE3) (1/32), CD34 (3/32), c-erbB-2 (10/32), c-kit (5/32), and c-met (5/32). α-Smooth muscle actin, desmin, and cytokeratin (CAM5.2) were negative. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction using RNA extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues demonstrated transcripts of the EWSR1-ATF1 (31/33) or EWSR1-CREB1 fusion gene (2/33). In 26 cases with available clinical information, local recurrences and metastases developed in 2 and 15 patients, respectively. Ten patients were dead of the disease, and the overall survival rate was 63% at 5 years. However, no clinicopathologic or molecular variables associated with the patients' prognosis were identified. This study confirms that CCS is an aggressive soft tissue tumor with a melanocytic phenotype and wider morphologic variations than had been generally considered. In cases with unusual histologic findings, molecular detection of the EWSR1-ATF1/CREB1 fusion genes provides critical information regarding the diagnosis of the tumor.

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