Pathology of Melanotic Schwannoma

Alexiev, B. A.; Chou, P. M.; Jennings, L. J.

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2018 Jan 27; 142(12):1517-1523


CONTEXT.-: Melanotic schwannoma (MS) is a nerve sheath tumor with a uniform composition of variably melanin-producing Schwann cells and metastatic potential. The MS is an uncommon neoplasm, accounting for less than 1% of all nerve sheath tumors, with a predilection for spinal nerve involvement. Microscopically, the tumors are characterized by spindle and epithelioid cells arranged in interlacing fascicles, with marked accumulation of melanin in neoplastic cells and associated melanophages. The MSs are frequently associated with Carney complex, showing features of psammoma bodies and adipose-like cells. Strict criteria of malignancy in MS are not well developed, although a combination of worrisome histologic features (large, vesicular nuclei, with macronucleoli, brisk mitotic activity, and necrosis) raises concern for aggressive behavior. OBJECTIVE.-: To review the current status of the MS literature, discussing putative etiology, histopathology, current genetics, and differential diagnoses, including overlap with other pigmented tumors. DATA SOURCES.-: Search of PubMed (National Center for Biotechnology Information, Bethesda, Maryland) and the authors' own experiences. CONCLUSIONS.-: The occurrence of MS at several unusual anatomic sites and its spectrum of morphologic patterns can result in significant diagnostic difficulty, and correct diagnosis is particularly important because of its high tendency to recur locally and to metastasize, which highlights the importance of diagnostic recognition, ancillary molecular genetic testing, and close clinical follow-up of patients with MS.

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