Solitary Fibrous Tumor of the Breast
A solitary fibrous tumor is one of a group of similar breast neoplasms which develop mostly from ‘stromal‘ cells and tissues, and not from glandular cells or epithelial cells. Sometimes the name ‘solitary fibrous tumor‘ is used as an over-arching term for all the different variations of these tumors (such as myofibroblastoma and leiomyoma) but the name also generally refers to a specific tumor-type which lacks some of the distinguishing features of the others. This group of benign fibrous-stromal tumors accounts for less than 0.2% of all breast lesions, and are just as common in men as in women.
Fibroblasts and myofibroblasts
The essential, unifying feature of this particular group of breast lesions are the neoplastic cells, which have a characteristic ‘spindle‘ shape. These spindle-like cells are mesenchymal cells (genetically immature, undifferentiated cells, or ‘stem‘ cells), and will tend either to be fibroblasts (a somewhat undifferentiated cell likely to become connective tissue) or myofibroblasts (a somewhat undifferentiated cell likely to become smooth muscle tissue) or something in-between. The ‘solitary fibrous tumor’, when referred to as a specific type of lesion, is one in which the ‘immature connective tissue cells‘, or fibroblasts, are the most prominent, and which lacks any other striking differential features.
I just want to let you know that this page is from around the year 2000, so it’s pretty old. Therefore, we have created a newer version with more up-to-date information on Solitary Fibrous Tumors.
Solitary fibrous tumors cannot confidently be distinguished from breast cancer by radiology alone, so histological evaluation is required (excisional biopsy). By microsopic appearance, solitary fibrous breast tumors, (and most of the related stromal tumors) are well-circumscribed lesions, and the bland, spindle-like fibroblastic cells form into short fascicles or clusters, and mixed with varying amounts of collagen. Uncommonly, a certain amount of adipose tissue (fat cells) might also be found in the tumor.
tumors stain highly for desmin
Solitary fibrous tumors will test positive for secretions of the the proteins CD34, Bcl2, CD99, and vimentin. But, they test very strongly for desmin, and do not test positive for smooth muscle actin, and these histological nuances more-or-less define this particular type of breast lesion.
Is a solitary fibrous breast tumor a concern for breast cancer or increased risk?
Solitary fibrous tumors and related stromal neoplasms are a bit hard to categorize. They are not considered to be breast cancer. In fact, the main concern with a finding of an apparent solitary fibrous tumor is to arrive at a proper differential diagnosis, because the ‘spindle-like‘ cells can take mimic spindle cell breast carcinoma. So, a diagnosis of solitary fibrous tumor and not spindle cell breast cancer is very good news.
most solitary fibrous tumors of the breast are benign
On the whole, solitary fibrous breast tumors are benign, but they are not entirely benign. One of the things the pathologist will look for are ‘atypical‘ cellular features, and the more atypical the cells are, the more likely that there may be malignant aspects to the lesions down the road. Some of these lesions have been know to recur locally or even to metastize, and depending upon where they metastize, there could be problems and future treatments required. However, it should be emphasized that a solitary fibrous breast tumor is a neoplasm involving unusual, but otherwise normal, cells. They can grow and cause problems, but they do not ‘devour and destroy‘ the way breast cancer cells do.
Treatment of breast solitary fibrous tumors
Solitary fibrous breast tumors are typically treated by extensive surgical resection (lumpectomy). There is no evidence that chemotherapy or radiation treatments are either necessary or effective. It is a condition that has to be followed-up routinely. Even though the disease generally has a non-aggressive clinical course, the possibilty of local recurrence and unlikely metastasis does merit strict follow-up observation, particularly if there are any atypical features.
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