Uterine smooth muscle tumors other than the ordinary leiomyomas and leiomyosarcomas: a review of selected variants with emphasis on recent advances and unusual morphology that may cause concern for malignancy

Adv Anat Pathol. 2010 Mar;17(2):91-112. doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e3181cfb901.


Uterine smooth muscle tumors are classified according to their morphologic features that include architecture, growth pattern, cellular characteristics and constituents of the intercellular stroma. While terminologies used for the pathologic diagnosis of various subtypes may be eloquent and histologically accurate, some of these are confusing for the clinician and may also be open to interpretation by different pathologists: the labeling of atypical leiomyomas epitomizes this intricate system. Clinically, it is probably more useful to classify them as either tumors with or tumors without recurrent and/or metastatic potential. The term "atypical leiomyoma" has been used to label tumors that have a low risk of recurrence and is synonymous with benign tumors. The latter are known variously as leiomyoma with bizarre nuclei, symplastic leiomyoma, or pleomorphic leiomyoma. Variants of benign uterine smooth muscle tumors, such as mitotically active leiomyoma, cellular and highly cellular leiomyoma, epithelioid leiomyoma, and myxoid leiomyoma each have distinctive hallmarks that enable subclassification. Nevertheless, they may occasionally possess one or more unusual features that are cause for alarm. Tumors that have a dissecting growth pattern, with or without extrauterine extension, may mimic malignancy both grossly and microscopically. The current review discusses the pathologic diagnosis of and terminology applied to selected variants of uterine smooth muscle tumors other than the ordinary leiomyomas and leiomyosarcomas with emphasis on unusual reported features that may indicate malignancy. This includes an update on uterine smooth muscle tumor of uncertain malignant potential (STUMP), intravenous leiomyomatosis, benign metastasizing leiomyoma, and diffuse leiomyomatosis. Their clinicopathologic features, differential diagnoses, and management options based on findings in the previously reported cases will also be reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma / pathology
  • Leiomyoma, Epithelioid / pathology
  • Leiomyomatosis / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Smooth Muscle Tumor / pathology*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / pathology*