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Histologic Spectrum of Giant Cell Tumor (GCT) of Bone in Patients 18 Years of Age and Below

A Study of 63 Patients

Al-Ibraheemi, Alyaa MD; Inwards, Carrie Y. MD; Zreik, Riyam T. MD; Wenger, Doris E. MD; Jenkins, Sarah M. MS; Carter, Jodi M. MD, PhD; Boland, Jennifer M. MD; Rose, Peter S. MD; Jin, Long MD; Oliveira, Andre M. MD, PhD; Fritchie, Karen J. MD

The American Journal of Surgical Pathology: December 2016 - Volume 40 - Issue 12 - p 1702–1712
doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000000715
Original Articles

Although the majority of giant cell tumors (GCTs) of the bone occur in adult patients, occasionally they arise in the pediatric population. In this setting they may be mistaken for tumors more commonly seen in this age group, including osteosarcoma, aneurysmal bone cyst, and chondroblastoma. All cases of primary GCT of the bone arising in patients 18 years and below were retrieved from our institutional archives and examined with emphasis on the evaluation of various morphologic patterns. Clinical/radiologic records were reviewed when available. Analysis for H3F3A/H3F3B mutations was performed in a subset of cases. Sixty-three (of 710) patients treated at our institution for GCT were 18 years of age and below. The following morphologic patterns were identified: fibrosis (31 cases, 49%), reactive-appearing bone (26, 41%), cystic change (7, 11%), foamy histiocytes (6, 10%), secondary aneurysmal bone cyst (3, 5%), and cartilage (2, 3%). Infarct-like necrosis was present in 17 tumors (27%), and the mitotic rate ranged from 0 to 35 mitoses/10 high-power fields (median 5 mitoses/10 high-power field). Follow-up information (n=55; 6 mo to 69.6 y; median, 11.6 y) showed 21 patients with local recurrence (38%) and 2 patients with lung metastasis (4%). Polymerase chain reaction with sequencing showed that 5 of 5 tested cases harbored H3F3A mutations. In summary, GCT arising in the pediatric population is rare, representing 9% of GCTs seen at our institution. The morphologic spectrum of these tumors is broad and similar to that seen in patients above 18 years of age. It is important to recognize that matrix formation may be observed in GCT, including reactive-appearing bone and cartilage, as well as areas of fibrosis mimicking osteoid production, to avoid misclassification as osteosarcoma or other giant cell–rich lesions common in children.

Departments of *Laboratory Medicine and Pathology


Biomedical Statistics and Informatics

§Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

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: Karen J. Fritchie, MD, Department of Anatomic Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Hilton 11, 200 First Street, SW, Rochester, MN 55905 (e-mail:

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