Angiosarcoma

Updated: Feb 03, 2017
  • Author: Belen Carsi, MD, PhD, FRCS; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Overview

Background

An angiosarcoma (AS) is an uncommon malignant neoplasm characterized by rapidly proliferating, extensively infiltrating anaplastic cells derived from blood vessels and lining irregular blood-filled spaces. Specialists apply the term angiosarcoma to a wide range of malignant endothelial vascular neoplasms that affect a variety of sites. Angiosarcomas are aggressive and tend to recur locally, spread widely, and have a high rate of lymph node and systemic metastases. The rate of tumor-related death is high. See the images below.

This is a gross specimen from a proximal humerus b This is a gross specimen from a proximal humerus bone angiosarcoma. These tumors generally are red and hemorrhagic. Although the tumor has not extended into the adjacent soft tissues, cortical erosion is evident. The patient was treated with wide excision and reconstruction with a humeral spacer. The patient's next oncologic recheck showed multiple lesions, including a large destructive lesion in the right ilium extending to the sacroiliac joint and the right sacral ala. Also noted was an upper thoracic vertebral lesion, multiple indeterminate pulmonary nodules, extensive hepatic metastases most marked in the left lobe, and an indeterminate left adnexal mass.
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Pathophysiology

Angiosarcomas arising at different sites and in different organs have some distinct features. Angiosarcomas may occur in any region of the body but are more frequent in skin and soft tissue. Angiosarcomas also can originate in the liver, breast, spleen, bone, or heart. [1, 2, 3, 4]

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Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

Angiosarcomas are rare neoplasms. Approximately 50% of angiosarcomas occur in the head and neck, but they account for less than 0.1% of head and neck malignancies. [5]

Based on analyses of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, 4.1% of angiosarcomas were diagnosed in the 26,758 cases of soft-tissue sarcoma available for analysis from 1978-2001. This is in contrast with the classic report of 1%. [6] The age-adjusted incidence rate for soft-tissue sarcoma was 3.1 per 100,000 population per year in the 2000-2004 period. [7]

International

Worldwide incidence is also low. [8]

Mortality/Morbidity

All angiosarcomas tend to be aggressive and are often multicentric. These tumors have a high local recurrence rate and metastasis because of their intrinsic biologic properties and because they are often misdiagnosed, leading to a poor prognosis and a high mortality rate. Malignant vascular tumors are clinically aggressive, difficult to treat, and have a reported 5-year survival rate around 20%. [9, 10] Advanced stage at presentation and lack of extensive excision are associated with higher recurrence, higher distant metastasis rates, and worsened survival.

The 5-year survival for soft tissue sarcomas is 67%. [11] The mortality for soft tissue sarcomas was around 1.6 cases per 100,000 population in 2000.

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Race-, Sex-, and Age-related Demographics

Demographic variation includes the following:

  • African Americans in the United States are rarely affected by cutaneous angiosarcoma. [5]
  • Cutaneous angiosarcoma is more frequent in males than in females, with a male-to-female ratio of 2:1
  • Bone and soft tissue angiosarcoma are also reported to be more frequent in males [12]
  • Bone angiosarcoma appears most often in adults (second to seventh decades of life)
  • Cutaneous angiosarcoma of the head and neck tends to occur in the elderly population
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