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Chordoma and chondroid neoplasms of the spheno-occiput. An immunohistochemical study of 41 cases with prognostic and nosologic implications.

Cancer 1993 November 16
BACKGROUND: Chordomas are rare neoplasms that show a proclivity for the spheno-occiput and sacral regions. A "chondroid" variant involving the spheno-occiput has been associated with improved survival. "Classic" or nonchondroid chordomas are uniformly immunoreactive for keratins. Chondroid chordomas are said to be immunonegative for epithelial markers, a feature used to support the concept that they represent chondrosarcomas.

METHODS: The authors performed immunohistochemical studies on 25 patients with chondroid chordoma (mean age, 40.0 years) and on 16 patients with classic chordomas (mean age, 44.2 years) to establish tumor subsets based upon immunophenotype, specifically reactivity for epithelial markers. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were then constructed for each group with age as an added variable.

RESULTS: All classic chordomas reacted for keratins as did 8 (32%) of the 25 chondroid chordomas. Forty-four percent of classic and 85% of chondroid chordomas were positive for S-100 protein. At 5 years, all patients younger than 40 years of age were alive in both the classic and chondroid groups. In contrast, of patients older than 40 years of age, only 22% with classic chordomas and 38% with chondroid chordomas were alive.

CONCLUSIONS: Regardless of tumor subtype, age is the single most important variable in determining survival; patients younger than 40 years of age do better than older patients. There are no significant survival differences between patients with cartilage-containing tumors that are keratin immunopositive ("true" chondroid chordoma) or negative (chondrosarcoma). Immunostaining for keratins is of no prognostic value in assessing chondroid lesions of the spheno-occiput.

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