Monophasic sarcomatoid carcinoma of the scalp: a case mimicking inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor and a review of cutaneous spindle cell tumors with myofibroblastic differentiation


Arlene Rosenberg, MD, Tulane Health Sciences Center, SL79, 1430 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
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Background:  The evaluation of malignant cutaneous spindle cell tumors is challenged by a diagnostic differential that comprises neoplasms of diverse histogenesis, and a broad immunohistochemical panel may confound the diagnosis when the results suggest multiple lines of differentiation, such as with a combined myofibroblastic and epithelial phenotype.

Methods:  We report the case of a solitary scalp nodule that quickly became locally metastatic. A comprehensive panel of immunohistochemistry markers and electron microscopy was evaluated to determine the differentiation of the spindle cells.

Results:  The tumor, consisting of wavy and slender spindle cells with predominantly bland nuclei, showed immunoreactivity to vimentin, smooth muscle actin, and muscle-specific actin. AE1/AE3, CK5/6, and MNF-116 antibodies were weakly positive in rare cells. However, 34βE12 showed diffuse positivity in the spindle cell population, thus supporting the diagnosis of a sarcomatoid carcinoma with myofibroblastic differentiation.

Conclusions:  The use of 34βE12 is essential for the evaluation of myofibroblastic spindle cell tumors with rare cytokeratin reactivity. However, even with immunohistochemical and electron microscopic studies, the diagnosis of spindle cell tumors can be confounded by the multiplicity of nosologic equivalents, such as carcinosarcoma, spindle cell carcinoma, and metaplastic carcinoma. The nomenclature of these spindle cell tumors is discussed.