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Desmoplastic Melanoma With Sarcomatoid Dedifferentiation

Kiuru, Maija MD, PhD*; McDermott, Gregory BA*; Berger, Michael PhD*,†; Halpern, Allan C. MD; Busam, Klaus J. MD*

The American Journal of Surgical Pathology: June 2014 - Volume 38 - Issue 6 - p 864–870
doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000000201
Case Reports

Desmoplastic melanoma (DM) is a variant of melanoma, which typically affects chronically sun-damaged skin of elderly patients. Pure DM displays a low density of fusiform melanocytes in a collagen-rich matrix. In mixed DM, tumor cell density is higher, and parts of the tumor lack abundant stromal fibrosis. Both pure and mixed DMs usually express S100 protein homogenously. We report herein an unusual biphenotypic tumor characterized by the association of a pure DM with an undifferentiated solid spindle cell nodule. It occurred on the scalp of a 66-year-old man. A biopsy of the undifferentiated spindle cell nodule was initially interpreted at a commercial laboratory as atypical fibroxanthoma. The pure DM was seen only in the excisional specimen. All cells of the pure DM stained for S100 protein and SOX10. The adjacent solid sarcomatoid spindle cell nodule lacked expression of S100 protein, SOX10, as well as melan-A, gp100, and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor in >95% of its tumor cells. Although focal expression of melanocyte differentiation antigens in the solid tumor component made us favor a combined DM with sarcomatoid dedifferentiation, we also considered the possibility of a collision scenario, that is, a pleomorphic dermal sarcoma incidentally colliding with a DM. To further assess a possible relationship of the sarcomatoid nodule with the DM, we performed next-generation sequencing analysis on each component separately. The analysis revealed shared chromosomal copy number changes and a high number of common mutations, thereby supporting the concept of a DM with a dedifferentiated sarcomatoid component. An interesting finding is the presence of mutations of the neurofibromin 1 (NF1) gene in both tumor components.

*Department of Pathology

Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program

Department of Medicine, Dermatology Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Correspondence: Klaus J. Busam, MD, Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065 (e-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.