Anaplastic sarcoma of the kidney: A clinicopathologic study of 20 cases of a new entity with polyphenotypic features

Gordan M. Vujanić*, Anna Kelsey, Elizabeth J. Perlman, Bengt Sandstedt, J. Bruce Beckwith

*Corresponding author for this work

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53 Scopus citations


We report 20 cases of a distinct, previously unrecognized renal neoplasm, anaplastic sarcoma of the kidney with polyphenotypic features. The tumors were identified by rereviewing tumors with unusual anaplastic features from the National Wilms Tumor Study Pathology Center, the International Society of Pediatric Oncology and the United Kingdom Children's Cancer Study Group trials. Patients ranged in age from 10 months to 41 years (median age 5 y, mean age 12 y) and females predominated (1.5:1). Twelve tumors presented in the right kidney, and 5 in the left (laterality was unknown in 3 cases). The most common presentation was a renal mass. Grossly, most tumors were large, measured 4 to 21 cm (mean 12.7 cm) and weighed 115 to 1820 g (mean 835 g). Seven out of 12 tumors suitable for assessment had a distinct cystic component. The tumors involved the pelvi-calyceal system in 5 of the cases. Histologically, all tumors showed a spindle cell component which contained either multiple foci or diffuse, widespread anaplastic changes with bizarre pleomorphic cells and very atypical mitotic figures. Chondroid differentiation was seen in 16 cases, usually in the form of islands of hyaline cartilage (13 cases) or chondroid matrix (3 cases). The nodules of cartilage showed both benign and malignant features, often within the same tumor. In 2 cases small foci of osteoid were found whereas osteoclastlike giant cells were seen in 4 cases. Only 3 of the tumors exhibited a primitive blastemalike area. No neoplastic epithelial structures were identified. No nephrogenic rests were found. Limited immunohistochemical studies showed vimentin positivity in 5/5 cases, desmin was positive in 4/6 cases, MYF4 showed focal weak nuclear positivity in 1/4 cases, but MyoD1 was negative in all cases (0/5). PGP9.5 was focally, strongly positive in 4/5 cases and p53 was strongly positive in 3/6 cases. Cytokeratin, using the antibody CAM5.2, was uniformly negative within the tumor cells. Finally, CD56 was focally positive in 1/6 tumors, whereas all other markers were negative including NB84a (4/4), CD34 (5/6), CD99 (5/5), and WT1 (6/6 cases). In 4 tumors reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction was performed to detect the SYT-SSX fusion transcript produced by the t(x;18), and the ETV6-NTRK3 fusion transcript using RNA extracted from archived paraffin blocks-results were negative in all 4 specimens. Tumor stage was known in 15 patients including 7 stage I, 4 stage II, 3 stage III, and 1 stage IV tumors. They were usually diagnosed as anaplastic Wilms tumors and treated accordingly. Of the 13 patients with a minimum of 2 years follow-up, 4 patients developed distant metastases and 1 had local recurrence including 1 patient with stage IV, 2 with stage III, and 2 with stage I at presentation. Three of them died and 2 were lost to follow-up. One patient with stage I tumor developed widespread metastases and died. Another stage I patient developed local recurrence after 3 months of diagnosis, but was lost to follow-up. Five stage I patients were alive and free of tumor at last follow-up. The most common sites of metastases were lung (3 cases), and liver and bones (2 cases each). These tumors showed pathologic features similar to the pleuropulmonary blastoma of childhood and undifferentiated (embryonal) sarcoma of the liver. In the differential diagnosis, anaplastic Wilms tumor, primary renal synovial sarcoma, malignant mesenchymoma, ectomesenchymoma, and mesenchymal chondrosarcomas have been considered but none of these tumors shared the same features as the 20 cases described here which represent a distinct clinicopathologic entity with morphologic features of a polyphenotypic anaplastic sarcoma of the kidney. Further molecular studies are needed to better understand its nature and more accurate classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1459-1468
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007


  • Anaplasia
  • Anaplastic sarcoma of the kidney
  • Children
  • New entity
  • Renal tumors
  • Wilms tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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