Spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma (so-called) in adults: Report of two cases with emphasis on differential diagnosis Academic Article Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Head and Neck Neoplasms
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nomograms
  • Sarcoma


  • Spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a recently described variant of embryonal RMS that carries a relatively favorable prognosis when compared with other forms of RMS. To date, spindle cell RMS has been described only in children. The authors have identified two unusual cases occurring in adults using the following criteria: tumors composed mainly of fascicular, relatively monomorphic spindle-shaped cells that show unequivocal immunohistochemical and ultrastructural evidence of myogenic differentiation. The tumors were identified in a 38-year-old woman and a 56-year-old man, arising in the cheek and left hemidiaphragm, respectively. Both were treated with surgical resection and chemotherapy. The first patient died of uncontrolled local recurrence of her tumor at 27 months after diagnosis, and the second died of metastatic disease at 13 months follow-up. The tumors were composed mainly of fascicles of spindle cells with palely eosinophilic cytoplasm admixed diffusely with sparse polygonal, rounded, or strap-shaped rhabdomyoblasts with brightly eosinophilic cytoplasm and with cross-striations in the first case only. Immunostaining for muscle-related antigens showed staining for smooth-muscle actin (focal), pan-actin HHF-35, desmin, fast myosin, myoglobin, and MyoD1. Both cases were negative for S-100 protein. On electron microscopy, both cases showed neoplastic rhabdomyoblasts with clear-cut sarcomeric differentiation in many of the tumor cells. Spindle cell RMS poses special problems in differential diagnosis when arising in adults and should be distinguished from leiomyosarcoma, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor with heterologous rhabdomyoblastic differentiation (malignant Triton tumor), and fibrosarcoma. In view of the good prognosis afforded children with spindle cell RMS and in light of the chemoresponsive behavior of RMS in general, we feel that it is important to identify tumors that meet the criteria for spindle cell RMS occurring in the adult population. However, based on these two cases, it is possible that spindle cell RMS occurring in adults may not be associated with such a favorable outcome.

publication date

  • April 23, 1998



  • Academic Article


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/00000478-199804000-00011

PubMed ID

  • 9537474

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 459

end page

  • 64


  • 22


  • 4