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Cutaneous Malignant Melanotic Neurocristic Tumors Arising in Neurocristic Hamartomas: A Melanocytic Tumor Morphologically and Biologically Distinct from Common Melanoma

Pearson, Jeffrey; Weiss, Sharon; Headington, John

The American Journal of Surgical Pathology: June 1996 - Volume 20 - Issue 6 - p 665-677
Original Article
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Cutaneous neurocristic hamartomas (CNH) are pigmented lesions of neural crest origin that involve the skin and superficial soft tissue. They consist of a complex proliferation of nevomelanocytes, schwann cells, and pigmented dendritic and spindled cells. Malignancies can arise within these lesions, but few studies have dealt with this issue. We studied seven cases of CNH in which malignancy supervened. They included four congenital and three acquired lesions that involved the head and neck (five cases) or back (two cases) in patients aged from 11 to 67 (mean, 32) years. Malignant tumors developed 15 to 67 (mean, 32) years after identification of the pigmented lesion in the congenital CNH and after 1 to 6 (mean 3.5) years in the acquired CNH. The malignant tumors had a deep intradermal or subcutaneous origin and lacked a junctional component. Most were circumscribed, multinodular, melanin-containing tumors composed of bland, small, rounded to spindled cells, focally displaying a trabecular or nested growth pattern. Nuclear palisading and perivascular pseudorosettes were present in several tumors. In two examples, the neoplasm consisted predominantly of large pleomorphic epithelioid cells. Tumors contained immunoreactive S-100 protein (all of seven cases), a melanoma-associated antigen (HMB-45) (five of six cases), neuron-specific enolase (five of seven cases) and vimentin (six of six cases). The four patients with congenital lesions tended to have multiple recurrences and died of disease after 2 to 20 (mean, 9) years, three with metastases, one with direct invasion of the posterior fossa. The three patients with acquired lesions are alive after 1 to 5 years, two with persistent disease. In contrast to common melanomas, these tumors have a propensity to recur as bulky nodules and to metastasize after many years or decades. Because these tumors exhibit melanocytic differentiation and arise in hamartomatous lesions composed of neural crest derivatives, we have designated them cutaneous malignant melanotic neurocristic tumors.

From the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Headington, The University of Michigan Medical School, Department of Pathology, Medical Sciences I, 1301 Catherine, M5240/0602, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0602, U.S.A.

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