Sinonasal Tract Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma in Adults: A Clinicopathologic and Immunophenotypic Study of Fifty-Two Cases with Emphasis on Epithelial Immunoreactivity

Lester D.R. Thompson, Vickie Y. Jo, Abbas Agaimy, Antonio Llombart-Bosch, Gema Nieto Morales, Isidro Machado, Uta Flucke, Paul E. Wakely, Markku Miettinen, Justin A. Bishop

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36 Scopus citations


Sinonasal tract (SNT) alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) are frequently misdiagnosed, especially in adults. Fifty-two adult (≥18 years) patients with SNT ARMS were reviewed and characterized by immunohistochemistry and molecular studies. Twenty-six females and 26 males (18–72 years; mean 43.2 years), presented after a short duration (mean 2.6 months) with a large (mean 5.5 cm) destructive nasal cavity mass, involving multiple contiguous paranasal sites (n = 46) and with cervical adenopathy (n = 41). The tumors showed an alveolar, nested to solid growth pattern below an intact, but often involved (n = 9) epithelium with frequent necrosis (n = 37), destructive bone invasion (n = 30), and lymphovascular invasion (n = 25). The neoplastic cells were dyshesive and dilapidated, with crush artifacts. Rhabdoid features (n = 36) and tumor cell multinucleation (n = 28) were common. Mitotic counts were high (mean 17/10 HPFs). The neoplastic cells showed the following immunohistochemical positive findings: desmin (100%), myogenin (100%), MYOD1 (100%), MSA (96%), SMA (52%), CAM5.2 (50%), AE1/AE3 (36%); other positive markers included S100 protein (27%), CD56 (100%), synaptophysin (35%), and chromogranin (13%). Overall, 54% show epithelial marker reactivity. Molecular studies showed FOXO1 translocations (81%) with PCR demonstrating PAX3 in 72.7% tested. Patients presented with high stage (IV 24; III 26) and metastatic disease (lymph nodes n = 41; distant metastases n = 25) (IRSG grouping). Surgery (n = 16), radiation (n = 41) and chemotherapy (n = 45) yielded an overall survival of 36.1 months (mean; range 2.4–286); 18 alive without disease (mean 69.6 months); 7 alive with disease (mean 11.0 months); 1 dead without disease (63.7 months); and 26 dead with disease (mean 18.5 months). SNT ARMS frequently present in adults as a large, destructive midline mass of short symptom duration, with high stage disease. The alveolar to solid pattern of growth of cells with rhabdoid-plasmacytoid features suggests the diagnosis, but epithelial immunohistochemistry markers are present in 54% of cases, leading to misdiagnosis as carcinomas if muscle markers are not also performed. Overall survival of 36.1 months is achieved with multimodality therapy, but 64% have incurable disease (16.9 months). Mixed anatomic site (p = 0.02) was a significant adverse prognostic indicator, while stage (0.06) and tumor size >5 cm (0.06) approached marginal significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-192
Number of pages12
JournalHead and Neck Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Adult
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratins
  • Nasal cavity
  • Paranasal sinus neoplasms/pathology
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, alveolar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Oncology


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