Postradiation vascular proliferations: an increasing problem


Christopher D M Fletcher MD, FRCPath, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The occurrence of cutaneous vascular lesions is a rare but well-documented complication of radiation treatment and may be associated with significant morbidity as well as mortality. The overall incidence is low but appears to be rising due to a change in the prevailing treatment of breast carcinoma with increased use of radiation in the setting of breast-conserving therapy for stage 1 and 2 disease. The spectrum of postradiation vascular lesions is wide and ranges from atypical vascular lesions with reportedly benign clinical behaviour to frank cutaneous angiosarcoma. There is, however, significant clinical as well as histological overlap. It is frequently difficult to classify these postradiation vascular lesions accurately and they create an emerging diagnostic and therapeutic challenge to both pathologists and clinicians. Experience with these vascular lesions is very limited, and this article aims to provide an overview of our current understanding and concept of radiation-associated vascular lesions with focus on their clinical and histological presentation as well as behaviour and treatment.