BACKGROUND: Endometrial stromal sarcoma (ESS) represents 0.2% of all uterine malignancies. Based on the mitotic activity, a distinction is made between low and high-grade ESS. Although the overall five-year survival rate for low-grade ESS exceeds 80%, about 50% of the patients show tumor recurrence, mostly after a long latency period. Tumor invasion of the great vessels is extremely rare. We describe a patient with advanced low-grade ESS with tumor invasion of the infrarenal aorta and the inferior vena cava. The patient presented with a large tumor thrombus extending from the inferior vena cava into the right atrium. METHODS: Review of literature and identification of 19 patients, including our own case report, with advanced low-grade ESS with invasion of the great vessels and formation of an inferior vena cava tumor thrombus. RESULTS: All 19 patients presented with an abdominal tumor mass and a tumor thrombus protruding into the inferior vena cava. The tumor thrombus extended into the right heart cavities in nine patients reaching the right atrium in four, the right ventricle in three and the pulmonary artery in two patients. There were 5 patients with an advanced primary tumor and 14 patients with an advanced recurrent tumor. Seven patients presented with synchronous metastatic disease and six patients with a pelvic tumor infiltrating the bladder, the rectosigmoid colon or the infrarenal aorta. Mean age at surgery was 45.9+/-12.3 years (median 47, range 25-65 years). Tumor thrombectomy was accomplished by cavatomy or by right atriotomy after installation of a cardiopulmonary bypass. There was no peri-operative mortality and a very low morbidity. Radical tumor resections were achieved in 10 patients. The follow-up for these 10 patients was 2+/-1.3 years (median 2, range 0.3-4.5 years). Nine patients remained recurrence free whereas one patient suffered an asymptomatic local recurrence.
CONCLUSIONS: Low-grade ESS is a rare angioinvasive tumor with a high recurrence rate. Resection of an inferior vena cava tumor thrombus, even with extension into the right heart cavities, can be performed safely. Extensive radical surgery is therefore justified in the treatment of advanced tumor manifestations of a low-grade ESS potentially improving recurrence free survival.
Link to abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18708288