Indexed with PubMed and Science Citation Index (E) 
Users online: 997 
     Home | Feedback | Login 
About Current Issue Archive Ahead of print Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe What's New Contact  
  Navigate here 
   Next article
   Previous article 
   Table of Contents
 Resource links
   Similar in PUBMED
    Search Pubmed for
    Search in Google Scholar for
  Related articles
   Article in PDF (144 KB)
   Citation Manager
   Access Statistics
   Reader Comments
   Email Alert *
   Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case report
   Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded429    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 6    

Recommend this journal


Year : 2006  |  Volume : 72  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 446-448

Epithelioid sarcoma: A diagnostic challenge

1 Department of Pathology, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences and Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, Sikkim, India
2 Department of Dermatology, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences and Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, Sikkim, India

Correspondence Address:
Kanthilatha K Pai
Department of Pathology, SMIMS and Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, Sikkim
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0378-6323.29343

Rights and Permissions


Epithelioid sarcoma is an uncommon slow-growing soft tissue malignancy, associated with a high incidence of local recurrence and metastasis. We report a 26-year-old male with epithelioid sarcoma on the right palm with a long history of over seven years, which was initially misdiagnosed as cutaneous tuberculosis and epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, as a result of which the treatment was delayed. No metastasis was found in our patient. The patient was referred to the oncology centre where he underwent wide excision of the lesion followed by radiotherapy. The review of the literature including clinical and histological differential diagnosis is presented as it mimics inflammatory, benign tumors as well as other malignant conditions.

Keywords: Epithelioid sarcoma, Soft tissue sarcoma

How to cite this article:
Pai KK, Pai SB, Sripathi H, Saha PK, Rao P. Epithelioid sarcoma: A diagnostic challenge. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2006;72:446-8

How to cite this URL:
Pai KK, Pai SB, Sripathi H, Saha PK, Rao P. Epithelioid sarcoma: A diagnostic challenge. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 2006 [cited 2020 Nov 27];72:446-8. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Epithelioid sarcoma is an uncommon soft tissue tumor that occurs almost exclusively in the distal part of an extremity. The tumor is remarkable for the diagnostic difficulties it poses, both clinically and histologically, resulting in a high frequency of initial misdiagnosis.

  Case report Top

A 26-year-old male presented with swelling over his right palm. His complaints started seven years ago as a small swelling, which slowly progressed in size and even ulcerated at places. He noticed the swelling a few months after an injury which was sustained on the hand when he fell over a stone. He had consulted his local doctor a year ago, who had given him treatment for cutaneous tuberculosis after histopathologic confirmation. He showed no improvement with treatment.

On clinical examination, he was moderately built and in good general health. There was an erythematous nodule on the right palm measuring 2.0 x 1.0 cm, with ulceration and scarring [Figure - 1]. The ulcer was irregular with punched out and raised edges. The base was firm and the floor was covered with granulation tissue. There was no fixation to the deeper tissues. X-ray of the hand revealed no bony involvement.

A biopsy from the nodule revealed a tumor in the dermis composed of diffuse sheets of epithelioid and spindle-shaped tumor cells. A few tumor cells exhibited formation of intracytoplasmic lumina. The neoplasm was highly vascular and perivascular lymphoid aggregates were seen. Two to three mitoses were seen per 10 high power fields. A diagnosis of epitheloid hemangioendotheliomia was made and complete excision of the lesion was advised.

A wider excision was performed. The specimen consisted of skin-covered elliptical tissue measuring 2.5 x 1.5 cm. Surface showed ulceration. Cut section showed irregular gray-white areas infiltrating up to the base. The resected margins were painted with India ink.

On microscopic examination, there was a tumor in the dermis with a distinct multinodular arrangement [Figure - 2]. Some of the nodules showed central areas of necrosis, degeneration and hemorrhage. Tumor extended to the epidermis causing ulceration. The tumor had biphasic population of both epitheloid and spindle-shaped tumor cells [Figure - 3]. Lymphoid aggregates were seen between tumor nodules. Focal areas of calcification were seen as also 8-9 mitosis /10 high power fields. The base of the resected margin was involved by the tumor. A diagnosis of epithelioid sarcoma was made. The patient was referred to the Oncology Centre for further management, where he underwent wide excision followed by radiotherapy. No regional or distant metastasis was found. No local recurrence has been observed after one year of undergoing wide excision.

  Discussion Top

Epithelioid sarcoma as a distinct entity was first described by Enzinger in 1970.[1] It is a rare high-grade soft tissue sarcoma with a known propensity for local recurrence. It accounts for less than 1% of soft tissue tumors.[2] The tumor poses a diagnostic difficulty and is often misdiagnosed as a benign condition or another malignant process.

The presentation is typically as a subcutaneous or deep dermal lesion in the distal portion of the upper extremities in young adults, but the tumor may also occur in the lower extremities and occasionally in the trunk or head and neck region.[3] Epithelioid sarcoma has a tendency to spread locally by way of lymphatics or along fascial planes and may give rise to multiple local nodules. Superficial tumors often ulcerate. Diagnosis is made by typical histological features of distinct nodular aggregates of epithelioid and spindle cells with zonal necrosis. It exhibits immunohistochemical reactivity for epithelial markers-keratins and epithelial membrane antigen, and for mesenchymal markers-most notably vimentin and CD34.[4] Our case had the tumor for a long duration of seven years before the correct diagnosis was made.

Epitheloid sarcoma is often misinterpreted on histopathology and misdiagnosed as granulomatous disease, wart, synovial carcinoma, ulcerating squamous cell carcinoma, amelanotic melanoma, clear cell sarcoma and epithelioid hemangioendothelioma.[1],[5],[6],[7] However, in epithelioid sarcoma, the epithelioid cells in the lesions are more sharply defined than in granulomas and the epithelioid cells are larger, more eosinophilic and less mature in nature.[6] Epithelioid sarcoma can be differentiated from synovial sarcoma by the absence of pseudoglandular structures and tendency to ulcerate. Absence of keratin pearls and dyskeratosis in the adjacent epithelium helps its differentiation from squamous cell carcinoma. Epitheliod hemangioendothelioma is a low-grade vascular neoplasm which can mimic epithelioid sarcoma and can be excluded by the absence of necrosis and low mitosis.[7] The present case was misdiagnosed as cutaneous tuberculosis elsewhere and the superficial biopsy of the lesion in our hospital was reported as epithelioid hemangioendothelioma. Diagnosis of epithelioid sarcoma was however established by a deeper biopsy because of its typical histopathological features. Immunohistochemical staining could not be done due to resource constraints.

Prognosis is dependent on the depth of the tumor in relation to the deep fascia, local recurrence and regional lymph node involvement. The size of the primary lesion is not a reliable indicator of prognosis, but smaller tumors are associated with significantly better distant metastasis-free interval.[8] Distal limb tumors have been reported to have better prognosis than the proximal limb and axial tumors. The present case did not show local spread or involvement of regional lymph nodes.

A local recurrence rate of 35%,[8] 69%[2] and 77%[5] has been reported in the literature. Epitheloid sarcoma has a tendency to be multifocal at recurrence. The frequency of regional lymph node metastasis is typically between 22 and 45%. Distant metastatic disease has been reported in up to 45% of patients with epithelioid sarcoma.[1],[2] The metastasis is usually to the lung and pleura.[8] No distant metastasis was detected in our patient at the referred oncology centre.

The treatment of primary disease is wide local excision, followed by adjuvant radiotherapy, in an attempt to lower the risk of local recurrence. Though amputation is required relatively frequently in epithelioid sarcoma because of the tendency of multifocal disease, there is no survival advantage from primary amputation. Chemotherapy is recommended for metastatic disease, with a standard regimen, which typically includes ifosfamide or doxorubicin, sometimes in combination. Our patient underwent wide excision of the lesion followed by radiotherapy and is free of the disease one year after the diagnosis.

  References Top

1.Enzinger FM. Epithelioid sarcoma: A sarcoma simulating a granuloma or a carcinoma. Cancer 1970;26:1029-41.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  
2.Ross HM, Lewis JJ, Woodruff JM, Brennan MF. Epithelioid sarcoma: Clinical behavior and prognostic factors of survival. Ann Surg Oncol 1997;4:491-5.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  
3.Prat J, Woodruff JM, Marcove RC. Epitheloid sarcoma: An analysis of 22 cases indicating the prognostic significance of vascular invasion and regional lymph node metastasis. Cancer 1978;41:1472-87.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  
4.Laskin WB, Miettinen M. Epithelioid sarcoma: New insights based on an extended immunohistochemical analysis. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2003;127:1161-8.  Back to cited text no. 4  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
5.Chase DR, Enzinger FM. Epithelioid sarcoma: Diagnosis, prognostic indicators and treatment. Am J Surg Pathol 1985;9:241-63.  Back to cited text no. 5  [PUBMED]  
6.Weiss SW, Goldblum JR. Malignant soft tissue tumors of uncertain type. In : Enzinger FM, Weiss SW, editors. Soft tissue Tumors. 4th ed. St Louis: Mosby; 2001. p. 1521-38.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Billings SD, Folpe AL, Weiss SW. Epithelioid sarcoma-like hemangioendothelioma. Am J Surg Pathol 2003;27:48-57.  Back to cited text no. 7  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
8.Spillane AJ, Thomas JM, Fisher C. Epithelioid sarcoma: The clinicopathologic complexities of this rare soft tissue sarcoma. Ann Surg Oncol 2000;7:218-25.  Back to cited text no. 8  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]


[Figure - 1], [Figure - 2], [Figure - 3]

This article has been cited by
1 Epithelioid sarcoma with angiomatous pattern: A diagnostic dilemma
Chaturvedi, M., Khare, M.S.
Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology. 2010; 53(1): 170-171
2 Epithelioid sarcoma: A diagnostic and surgical challenge
Burgos, A.M., Chávez, J.G., Sánchez, J.L., Sánchez, N.P.
Dermatologic Surgery. 2009; 35(4): 687-691
3 Epithelioid Sarcoma
Adisbeth Morales Burgos,José González Chávez,Jorge L. Sánchez,Néstor P. Sánchez
Dermatologic Surgery. 2009; 35(4): 687
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the maxillary sinus: A rare head and neck tumor
Kumar, M., Goyal, S., Bahl, A., Das, P., Sharma, D.N., Ray, R., Rath, G.K.
Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics. 2008; 4(3): 131-133
5 A particular abdominal tumor | [Une tumeur abdominale particuličre]
Gouiaa, N., Chaâbouni, S., Kallel, R., Ayadi, L., Abbés, K., Bahri, I., Ghorbel, A., (...), Boudawara, T.
Annales de Pathologie. 2008; 28(1): 69-70
6 Une tumeur abdominale particuličre
Naourez Gouiaa,Salma Chaâbouni,Rim Kallel,Lobna Ayadi,Karima Abbés,Ibticem Bahri,Ali Ghorbel,Abdelmajid Khabir,Saloua Makni,Tahya Boudawara
Annales de Pathologie. 2008; 28(1): 69
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Print this article  Email this article
Previous article Next article


Online since 15th March '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow