Disentangling of malignancy from benign pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas

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© 2016 Kim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Objective Many malignant tumors initially appear benign but subsequently exhibit extensive metastases. Early identification of malignant pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs) before metastasis is important for improved prognosis. However, there are no robust prognostic indices of recurrence and malignancy. The aim of this study was to identify the clinical and histopathological factors that predict malignant PPGLs. Design Retrospective follow-up study. Methods In this study, we included 223 patients with pathologically confirmed PPGLs who were treated between 2000 and 2015 at the Seoul National University Hospital in South Korea. Results Of these patients, 29 were diagnosed with malignancy, 12 of whom presented with metastatic lesions at the initial diagnosis while 17 developed metastases during follow-up. Nineteen patients with recurrent PPGLs consisted of ones with malignant PPGLs (n = 17) and multifocal PPGLs (n = 2) who had VHL and RET mutations. The mean age at presentation for malignant PPGLs was significantly younger than that for benign PPGLs (43.0 vs. 49.0 years, respectively; p = 0.023). Tumor size was not a distinguishing factor between malignant and benign PPGLs (5.0 vs. 4.5 cm, respectively; p = 0.316) nor did it predict recurrence. Of 119 patients with available pheochromocytoma of adrenal gland scaled score (PASS) data, those with malignant PPGLs presented PASS values ≥4. Of 12 parameters of PASS, necrosis, capsular invasion, vascular invasion, cellular monotony, high mitosis, atypical mitotic figures, and nuclear hyperchromasia were significant predictors of malignancy. Conclusions Tumor size did not predict malignancy or recurrence of PPGLs. PPGL patients with characteristic pathologic findings and PASS ≥;4 or germline mutations require close follow-up.




Kim, K. Y., Kim, J. H., Hong, A. R., Seong, M. W., Lee, K. E., Kim, S. J., … Kim, S. Y. (2016). Disentangling of malignancy from benign pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas. PLoS ONE, 11(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168413

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