Soft Tissue Special Issue: Skeletal Muscle Tumors: A Clinicopathological Review

  • Kenichi Kohashi
  • Izumi Kinoshita
  • Yoshinao OdaEmail author
Special Issue: Soft Tissue


Skeletal muscle tumors are classified into rhabdomyoma and embryonal, alveolar, spindle cell/sclerosing and pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma according to WHO classifications of tumors. These tumors arise mostly in the head and neck and, in childhood, represent the largest subset of soft tissue tumors. Although these skeletal muscle tumors show common immunoexpression of two myogenic regulatory factors, MyoD1 and myogenin, their molecular biological backgrounds are quite different. Therefore, treatment regimens vary a great deal depending on the histological subtype. Histopathologically, rhabdomyoma is characterized by well-demarcated lesions with no invasion of the surrounding tissue. Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma is composed of primitive mesenchymal cells in various stages of myogenesis and shows heterogeneous nuclear staining for myogenin. Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, on the other hand, shows a proliferation of uniform primitive round cells arranged in alveolar patterns. The tumor cells at the periphery of alveolar structures adhere in a single layer to the fibrous septa. Diffuse and strong nuclear immunoexpression for myogenin is observed. In genetic backgrounds, almost all alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas contain a characteristic fusion gene such as PAX3/7-FOXO1. Spindle cell/sclerosing rhabdomyosarcoma is characterized by fascicularly arranged spindle-shaped cells or dense hyalinized collagenous matrix. NCOR2- or VGLL2-related gene fusions or MYOD1 (p.L122R) mutation is commonly recognized. Epithelioid rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare variant of rhabdomyosarcoma that shows a proliferation of epithelioid tumor cells having large vesicular nuclei, prominent nucleoli, and amphophilic to eosinophilic cytoplasm arranged in sheets. As these characteristic histological and molecular features are present in each subtype, it is possible to diagnose skeletal muscle tumors accurately.


Rhabdomyoma Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma Spindle cell/sclerosing rhabdomyosarcoma Head and neck 



The English used in this manuscript was revised by KN International (


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomic Pathology, Pathological Sciences, Graduate School of Medical SciencesKyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan

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