Clear cell sarcoma (CCS) is a rare tumor with a very poor prognosis that occurs predominantly in the distal extremities of young adults. Most patients bear the t(12;22) reciprocal translocation, which involves the EWS and ATF1 genes. The diagnosis of CCS usually is easy but may be challenging in unusual sites, and the detection of EWS-ATF1 fusion transcripts is helpful to rule out a metastatic melanoma.
Forty-four patients with CCS and 14 conventional melanomas were examined for the presence of EWS-ATF1 transcripts by using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis on paraffin embedded tissues, including frozen samples for 9 CCS samples and 9 melanoma samples. Prior to molecular analysis, the diagnosis of CCS was considered certain in 35 patients and as probable in 9 patients on the basis of location, histologic features, and immunohistochemical profile. Treatment modalities and follow-up were available for 41 patients with CCS.
EWS-ATF1 fusion transcripts were detected in 38 paraffin embedded CCS tissues (86% of all samples; 93% of interpretable samples), 3 samples (7%) were negative, and 3 samples (7%) were considered uninterpretable. Fusion transcripts were detected in 7 of 9 samples for which the diagnosis of CCS was considered probable. EWS-ATF1 transcripts were not detected in the 14 samples of melanoma. Results from frozen tissues were concordant with those from all corresponding paraffin embedded samples. Twenty-eight of 41 patients (68%) experienced lymph node and/or distant metastasis, and the 5 year-survival rate was 44%. Mitotic index and histologic grade were predictive of survival and distant metastasis.
The results of this study showed that the molecular detection of EWS-ATF1 fusion transcript by real-time PCR on paraffin embedded tissues is a sensitive and specific method for the diagnosis of CCS. It is an efficient tool for the diagnosis of unusual tumors, especially with regard to its distinction from melanoma. The current results also confirmed the poor prognosis for patients with this tumor type. Mitotic index and grade were predictive factors for survival and distant metastasis. Cancer 2006. © American Cancer Society.