Malignant epithelioid vascular tumors of the pleura: report of a series and literature review

Hum Pathol. 2000 Jan;31(1):29-34. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(00)80194-x.


Primary malignant vascular tumors of the pleura are rare. The significance and difficulty of distinction between pleural epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) and angiosarcoma have not yet been addressed. A new series of pleural angiosarcoma is reported, and the relevant literature is reviewed. Five cases were identified from files of the authors' institutions and personal consultation cases (J.J.B.). Twenty-six cases of primary malignant vascular tumors of the pleura were identified in the literature. In a total of 31 cases, 22 were from the West and 9 from Japan. Patients were 22 to 79 years old (average, 57), and the male/female ratio was 9:1. Prior chronic pyothorax was identified only in cases reported from Japan. History of exposure to radiation or asbestos was noted in a few Western cases. The most common presentation was pleural thickening and effusion. Almost all of the patients died of disease shortly after diagnosis. A spectrum of histology ranging from characteristic high-grade epithelioid to relatively low-grade EHE-like features was observed in our cases and can be found in previous reports. Most cases showed variable spotty cytokeratin immunoreactivity. Endothelial markers (factor 8, CD34, or CD31) were invariably positive. Pleural angiosarcomas are often epithelioid and can be easily mistaken for mesothelioma or carcinoma clinically and histologically. Awareness of this rare tumor should prompt the use of endothelial markers when faced with a questionable mesothelioma. When cytokeratin is negative, or focal with strong vimentin reactivity, a vascular tumor should be suspected and confirmed with vascular markers. Because of their invariably aggressive behavior, all epithelioid vascular tumors of the pleura should be considered highly malignant regardless of the presence of EHE-like histological features.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Factor VIII / metabolism
  • Female
  • Hemangiosarcoma / metabolism*
  • Hemangiosarcoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Pleural Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antigens, CD34
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Factor VIII