Round cell sarcomas beyond Ewing: emerging entities

Histopathology. 2014 Jan;64(1):26-37. doi: 10.1111/his.12281. Epub 2013 Nov 12.


Primitive small blue round cell tumours (SBRCT) of childhood and young adults have been problematic to diagnose and classify. Diagnosis is also complicated in cases with atypical morphology, aberrant immunoprofiles and unusual clinical presentations. Even with the increased use of ancillary techniques in archival material, such as immunohistochemistry and molecular/genetic methods, a proportion of these tumours cannot be subclassified into specific histological types. A subset of tumours resembling microscopically the Ewing sarcoma family of tumours (EFT), being composed of primitive small round cells and occurring in paediatric or young adult age groups, remain unclassified, being negative for EWSR1, SS18(SYT), DDIT3(CHOP) and FOXO1(FKHR) gene rearrangements by FISH/RT-PCR. A small number of cases sharing the undifferentiated EFT appearance have been characterized recently carrying BCOR-CCNB3 or CIC-DUX4 fusions. However, based on the somewhat limited number of cases, it remains unclear if these newly defined genetic entities belong to any of the pre-existing clinicopathological disorders or represent altogether novel conditions. This review presents the latest molecular findings related to these SBRCTs, beyond the common EWSR1-ETS fusions. Specific attention has been paid to morphological features not associated typically with classic EFT, and the value of ancillary tests that can be applied when dealing with EWSR1-negative SBRCTs is discussed.

Keywords: BCOR-CCNB3; CIC-DUX4; EWSR1; Ewing sarcoma; FUS; translocation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Sarcoma, Ewing
  • Sarcoma, Small Cell / genetics*
  • Sarcoma, Small Cell / pathology*