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Abstract

The clinicopathologic findings in 200 cases of malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) with follow-up information are presented. This tumor occurred principally as a mass on an extremity (lower extremity 49%, upper extremity 19%) or in the abdominal cavity or retroperitoneum (16%) of adults (peak incidence 61–70 years of age). It typically involved deep fascia (19%) or skeletal muscle (59%) and only rarely was confined to the subcutis without fascial involvement (7%). The MFH had variable morphologic features and frequently showed transitions from areas having a highly ordered storiform pattern to less differentiated areas having a pleomorphic appearance. The rate of local recurrence of the tumor was 44%, and of metastasis, 42%. Metastasis was most frequently to the lung (82%) and lymph nodes (32%). Factors that influenced the rate of metastasis included depth, size, and inflammatory component of the tumor. Tumors that were small, superficially located, or had a prominent inflammatory component metastasized less frequently than larger, more deeply located tumors. In our experience the MFH is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of late adult life, and many tumors previously diagnosed as pleomorphic variants of liposarcoma, fibrosarcoma, or rhabdomyosarcoma are probably examples of MFH. Although the histogenesis of this neoplasm remains controversial, we feel it is best regarded as a primitive and pleomorphic sarcoma showing partial fibroblastic and histiocytic differentiation, as reflected by collagen production and occasional phagocytosis.