Journal of Cytology
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 126-127
Capillary vessels in Ewing's sarcoma: Overlooked?

Institute of Pathology, Safdarjang Hospital Campus, Post Box 4909, New Delhi - 110 029, Delhi, India

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Date of Web Publication27-Jan-2010

How to cite this article:
Malhotra P, Hora H, Agrawal U. Capillary vessels in Ewing's sarcoma: Overlooked?. J Cytol 2009;26:126-7

How to cite this URL:
Malhotra P, Hora H, Agrawal U. Capillary vessels in Ewing's sarcoma: Overlooked?. J Cytol [serial online] 2009 [cited 2022 Dec 7];26:126-7. Available from:


We describe an interesting cytomorphologic observation in a case of extraskeletal Ewing's sarcoma that may prove to be a useful clue to cytological diagnosis.

A 10-year-old male presented with a recurrent tumor on the back. The tumor was excised at a private hospital three months back and had rapidly regrown to the present size of 9 x 4 cm. Before excision, the tumor had been present for one year. Computerised tomography and radiography examination confirmed that the tumor was localized to the soft tissue, with no bony involvement.

On aspiration, the tumor was vascular and yielded a blood-mixed aspirate. Smears were cellular and showed small round cells arranged in loosely cohesive clusters. These clusters showed an abundance of capillary-sized vascular channels around which these cells were arranged [Figure 1]. The small round cells were of two different types. One cell type showed large cells with a high N/C ratio, a rim of finely vacuolated cytoplasm and finely dispersed chromatin. The second cell type was smaller in size and showed a more condensed chromatin. The cytoplasmic vacuoles were stained for glycogen using periodic acid Schiff reagent.

The slides and blocks of the previous excision were procured. Sections showed sheets of monomorphous cells divided into lobules by fibrovascular septae. Tumor cells showed ill-defined margins and scant amounts of pale to clear cytoplasm. The nuclei were round to oval to spindle shaped and showed finely dispersed chromatin and inconspicuous nucleoli. Mitotic activity was inconspicuous. On immunohistochemistry, tumor cells were strongly reactive with vimentin, CD99 and EWS antibody. A diagnosis of extraskeletal Ewing's sarcoma was considered.

Extraskeletal Ewing's sarcoma is the soft tissue counterpart of Ewing's sarcoma, first described by Angervall and Enzinger in1975. Reports on cytomorphology are scant, but describe morphologic features similar to Ewing's sarcoma. [1],[2],[3] The presence of vascular endothelial channels in these clusters has not been previously described in cytological aspirates.

Ewing's sarcoma is richly vascular and shows an abundance of thin-walled vessels within the fibrovascular septae, producing a lobular pattern. [4] The vessels tend to get compressed and obscured by the closely packed tumor cell population. Immunostaining against CD31 was used in the present case to highlight these vascular channels. The rich vascularity becomes conspicuous in areas of degeneration and necrosis of tumor cells, producing the classical "f iligree" pattern. The vascular nature of the tumor was probably responsible for the designation of this tumor as "diffuse endothelioma" in the past. Interestingly, an endothelial origin had been proposed for this tumor initially, which was later disproved using immunohistochemical markers. Recently, experimental studies have demonstrated angiogenesis as well as vasculogenesis in these tumors. [5] Therapeutic measures to suppress tumor growth by counteracting this process are being investigated.

In addition to the presence of intracytoplasmic glycogen and a two-cell population, these vascular channels with adherent tumor cells may be used as an additional diagnostic criterion to help in differential diagnosis of small round cell tumors on cytology.

   References Top

1.Guiter GE, Gamboni MM, Zakowski MF. The cytology of extraskeletal Ewing sarcoma. Cancer 1999;87:141-8.  Back to cited text no. 1      
2.Bakhos R, Andrey J, Bhoopalam N, Jensen J, Reyes CV. Fine-needle aspiration cytology of extraskeletal Ewing's sarcoma. Diagn Cytopathol 1998;18:137-40.  Back to cited text no. 2      
3.Brehaut LE, Anderson LH, Taylor DA. Extraskeletal Ewing's sarcoma: Diagnosis of a case by fine needle aspiration cytology. Acta Cytol 1986;30:683-7.  Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Weiss SW, Goldblum JR, editors. Enzinger and Weiss's soft tissue tumors. 4 th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Inc;2001. p. 1265.  Back to cited text no. 4      
5.Bolontrade MF, Zhou RR, Kleinerman ES. Vasculogenesis plays a role in the growth of Ewing's sarcoma cells in vivo. Clin Cancer Res 2002;8:3622-7.  Back to cited text no. 5      

Correspondence Address:
Purnima Malhotra
Institute of Pathology, Safdarjang Campus, Post Box 4909, New Delhi 110 029, Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9371.59403

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  [Figure 1]

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