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Tumours composed of fat are no longer a simple diagnosis: an overview of fatty tumours with a spindle cell component
  1. Aoife J McCarthy,
  2. Runjan Chetty
  1. Department of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine Program, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Runjan Chetty, Department of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine Program, University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4, Canada; runjan.chetty{at}


This is a review of the morphological spectrum of fatty tumours containing a component of spindle cells, highlighting the immunohistochemical and cytogenetic workup that is now mandatory for accurate diagnosis, with the goal of providing a practical approach for practising surgical pathologists. There have been significant advances in recent years in classifying and understanding the pathogenesis of fatty tumours with spindle cells, based on the correlation of histological, immunohistochemical and cytogenetic/molecular findings. In spite of this, morphological diagnosis and accurate classification of fatty tumours with spindle cells can be challenging to diagnostic pathologists. A group of three lesions: spindle cell lipoma, mammary-type myofibroblastoma and cellular angiofibroma share morphological features and are united by retinoblastoma protein (pRb) loss. Closely allied to these lesions, especially spindle cell lipoma is the newly designated atypical spindle cell lipomatous tumour, which shares morphological, immunohistochemical and cytogenetic features with the trio of tumours lacking nuclear pRb. All of these lesions lack MDM2 and CDK4 amplification as well and separation is based on clinical features, principally location. Atypical lipomatous tumour or well-differentiated liposarcoma shows retention of pRb but overexpression and amplification of MDM2. Fatty tumours with spindle cells need to be extensively sampled, with careful attention paid to cellular atypia and location, and they need to have immunohistochemical workup with pRb, MDM2, desmin, CD34 and p16. In addition, cytogenetic analysis for MDM2 and CDK4 amplification has become crucial for the proper identification of these lesions.

  • Spindle cell fatty tumours
  • atypical lipomatous tumour
  • atypical spindle cell lipomatous tumour
  • cellular angiofibroma
  • liposarcoma
  • mammary-type myofibroblastoma
  • spindle cell lipoma.

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  • Handling editor Cheok Soon Lee.

  • Contributors AJM and RC contributed equally to the conceptualising and writing of the manuscript.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement None.

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