. Vascular Neoplasms

Vascular Neoplasms


Denise M. Adams and Michael E. Kelly


Vascular tumors comprise a small percentage of tumors in children and adults. Classifying these tumors can be difficult because of the rarity of these lesions and their diverse morphologic appearance and clinical behavior. In the pediatric population, these tumors are not independently stratified, leading to further problems with diagnosis. The most common vascular tumors (hemangiomas) are benign and have a diverse spectrum of clinical phenotypes. Similarly, the rarer vascular tumors can be benign or malignant with some overlap adding to diagnostic and treatment dilemmas (Table 462-1).

Table 462-1. Classification of Vascular Neoplasms

Benign tumors and tumor-like conditions




Spindle cell hemangiomas

Pyogenic granuloma


Low-grade malignant tumors

Retiform hemangioendotheliomas

Kaposiform hemangioendotheliomas


Malignant tumors

Epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas



Infantile hemangiomas are discussed in more detail in Chapter 364. Hemangiomas are composed of a proliferating, clonal population of endothelial-like cells.1 These tumors can involve any organ; can occur as single, diffuse, or disseminated lesions; and can be associated with complicated syndromes.1,2 Tumor endothelial cells express GLUT1 as determined by immunohistochemistry.4 Most hemangiomas are uncomplicated and do not require therapeutic intervention. However, a significant percentage of hemangiomas produce clinical symptoms because of lesion size, location, or hemodynamic effects.5

Treatment of infantile hemangiomas is designed to control growth, minimize deformity, and preserve function. Systemic pharmaco-therapy is used to treat large lesions, those that present a surgical challenge, or lesions causing functional or life-threatening problems. Steroids used at high doses (2–5 mg/kg/day) for long periods of time (3–12 months) have been the mainstay of therapy for symptomatic hemangiomas.6-10 Other agents with reported activity in treating hemangiomas include vincristine and α-interferon.11-19


Infants with multiple (> 5) cutaneous hemangiomas can have focal visceral tumors involving the liver, spleen, lung, brain, and intestines. The liver is the organ most commonly affected and its involvement can lead to serious complications such as hepatomegaly with liver dysfunction, compartment syndrome (intraparenchymal hypertension), congestive heart failure, and anemia/mild thrombocytopenia.20-22 Therefore, infants presenting with multiple cutaneous hemangiomas should undergo further evaluation, including ultrasound evaluation of the abdomen. If liver lesions are found, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is indicated to better characterize and quantify the lesions. Liver hemangiomas can also occur without cutaneous lesions, which make them more difficult to diagnose. Symptomatic liver hemangiomas have been treated successfully with steroids, vincristine, and interferon therapy.

A recent report demonstrated an association between infantile hemangiomas and severe hypothyroidism.23 High levels of type 3-iodothyronine deiodinase activity were found in the hemangioma tissue, causing an accelerated uptake of thyroid hormone. Infants with large hemangiomas, particularly hepatic hemangiomas, should therefore be screened for hypothyroidism. Since such patients may require extraordinarily high doses of thyroid replacement, they should be followed by a pediatric endocrinologist. Image


Spindle cell hemangiomas (SCH) often occur as superficial, painful lesions involving distal extremities in adolescents and young adults.24,25 Tumors often begin as a single nodule, but most patients develop multifocal lesions within an anatomic region over years. These tumors are well circumscribed, occasionally contain phleboliths, and consist of cavernous blood spaces alternating with areas of nodular spindle cell proliferation. Image SCH has been described in association with Maffucci syndrome, Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome, early-onset varicosities, and congenital lymphedema. Metastases have not been reported, although local recurrence following surgical excision is 50% to 60%.24


Pyogenic granuloma is a vascular tumor that predominantly affects children and young adults.26-28 The precise mechanism for the development of pyogenic granuloma is unknown. These lesions can arise spontaneously, in sites of trauma, and within capillary malformations. Pyogenic granulomas have also been associated with medications, including oral contraceptives and retinoids. Most occur as solitary growths, but multiple (grouped) or, rarely, disseminated lesions have been described. These lesions appear as small vascular papules that grow rapidly over weeks and tend to bleed spontaneously. Histologically, these lesions are composed of capillaries and venules with plump endothelial cells separated into lobules by fibromyxoid stroma. Untreated lesions eventually atrophy, become fibromatous, and slowly regress. Surgery is restricted for problematic lesions; however, recurrences can be as high as 40% to 50%.


Angiofibromas are rare benign neoplasms in the pediatric population. Specifically challenging are juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibromas (JNA), which account for 0.5% of all head and neck tumors.29Image Surgical excision is the treatment of choice but can be very challenging. JNA have also been treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and α-interferon therapy.


Retiform hemangioendotheliomas are slow-growing, exophytic, flat tumors found in young adults and teenagers.30 They are usually located in the limbs and trunk. Local recurrences are common, but distant metastases are extremely rare. Pathologically, they are located in the dermis and subcutaneous tissue planes of the skin. Vessels exhibit a pattern resembling the rete testis and are lined by protruding endothelial cells. Treatment is usually surgical excision.


Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma (KHE) is a rare tumor noted by Zukerberg in 1993 to have features similar to but distinct from juvenile hemangiomas.31 This tumor is often associated with Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon, which is characterized by consumptive coagulopathy associated with profound thrombocytopenia, hypofibrinogenemia, and elevated fibrin split products.32,33 KHE is usually present at birth but can appear in children and young adults, affecting both sexes equally. Lesions are firm, indurated, and purpuric; they are usually unifocal but can be very diffuse. Initially, lesions may not be evident, but with trauma and worsened coagulopathy, they become violaceous and larger. These tumors have a predilection for the upper trunk, extremities, thigh, sacrum, and retroperitoneum. Image

A number of therapies have been reported in the treatment of these tumors, but none have been uniformly effective.35,36 These therapies include the use of steroids, α-interferon, antifibrinolytic agents, and chemotherapy, including vincristine, cyclophosphamide, actinomycin, and methotrexate. These agents have been used singularly or in combination. Image

Surgical excision, when possible, is the most effective treatment for kaposiform hemangioendothelioma; however, with large lesions or when Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon is present, multi-modality treatment is necessary. Even with therapy, these lesions do not fully regress, and they can recur.37 The mortality associated with this tumor is primarily from the extensive coagulopathy (Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon). Long-term effects include chronic pain, lymphedema, heart failure, and orthopedic issues. These lesions prove to be a difficult dilemma for the practitioner because they have varying degrees of clinical spectrum and varying responses to therapy. They should not be confused with hemangiomas and require supervision by a multidisciplinary team.


Hemangiopericytomas (HPC) are soft tissue tumors derived from mesenchymal cells with pericytic differentiation.38-42 They are very uncommon in children, who account for 10% of HPC cases. They usually present as a deep soft tissue mass with insidious growth and can occur in any part of the body, with the extremities being the most common location. Image

In childhood, 2 distinct clinical entities are described: the adult type and the infantile type. The adult type occurs in children older than 1 year and is similar to HPC in adults. The infantile type occurs in the first year of life with focal and multifocal disease and is commonly associated with spontaneous regression and an overall favorable prognosis. This entity represents a third of all pediatric HPC cases and is considered congenital. Image Surgical re-section is the mainstay of treatment. The effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy remains to be established, but some reports have suggested a significant role for adjuvant treatments when complete resection is not possible.


Epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas arise from medium to large blood vessels and involve the soft tissue of the extremities, liver, lung, bone, and, rarely, the head and neck.38,39 They are more common in middle age but have been reported in children. Epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas can metastasize to lymph nodes, brain, and liver. Thirty percent of soft tissue cases are associated with metastases and, when present, portend a very aggressive course with limited response to chemotherapy. Image


Angiosarcomas are rare neoplasms that can occur in any region of the body (liver, breast, spleen, bone, heart) but are more frequent in skin and soft tissue.43-45 The tumors may develop as a complication of previous radiation therapy, from preexisting conditions such as chronic lymph edema, or following environmental exposures. Image 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. Doxorubicin-based therapies and newer antiangiogenic agents have been used in small numbers of patients with some success.


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Jan 7, 2017 | Posted by in PEDIATRICS | Comments Off on . Vascular Neoplasms
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