Objective: Solitary fibrous tumours (SFT) of the pleura are rare tumours originated from the mesenchimal tissue underlying the mesothelial layer of the pleura. This tumours present unpredictable clinical course probably related to their histological and morphological characteristics.
Methods: Twenty-one patients affected by SFT of the pleura were referred to us for surgical resection from September 1984 to April 2000. They were 15 males and six females with median age of 51 (range 15--73) years. Nine patients (43%) were symptomatic and predominant clinical symptoms or signs were dyspnoea (19%), coughing (14.3%), chest pain (28.5%), finger clubbing (14.3%) and hypoglycaemia (14.3%). Hypoglycaemia was related to a pathological incretion of insulin-like growth factor 2 by the tumour. Chest radiograph and computed tomography of the chest revealed intra-thoracic homogeneous sharply delineated round or lobulated mass sometimes associated with ipsilateral pleural effusion (19%) or causing pulmonary atelectasis with opacification of the complete hemithorax (19%). Surgical excision required 14 posterolateral thoracotomies, six anterior thoracotomies and one video-assisted thoracoscopy. Thirteen tumours arose from visceral pleura and wedge resection was performed, seven tumours arose from parietal pleura and extrapleural resection was carried out without any chest-wall resection, one tumour growth within the upper left lobe and required lobectomy. Tumours weighted from 22 to 1942 g and measured from 22x12x8 to 330x280x190 mm. At cut section seven cases (34%) revealed focal necrosis and hemorrhagic zones and on light microscopy six cases (28.5%) were characterized by high mitotic count: characteristics related with uncertain clinical behaviour. Immuno-histochemical reactions were in all cases positive for CD34.
Results: In all our patients resections were complete. Paraneoplastic syndromes like hypoglycaemia and clubbing receded after surgery. No intraoperative or perioperative medical or surgical complications occurred. Median chest-drain duration timed 3 (range 2--5) days and median hospital stay was 5 (range 4--7) days. Perioperative mortality rate was 0%. Median follow-up was 68 (range 2--189) months: during this period patients were submitted to chest X-ray with 6-months interval to evaluate possible local recurrence. Only one patient experienced tumour recurrence after 124 months follow-up: the tumour was suspected after observation of finger clubbing. The tumour was detected and excised by redo-thoracotomy.
Conclusions: Surgical resection of benign solitary fibrous tumours is usually curative, but local recurrences can occur years after seemingly adequate surgical treatment. Malignant solitary fibrous tumours generally have a poor prognosis. Clinical follow-up and radiological follow-up are indicated for both benign and malignant solitary fibrous tumours.