Sarcomas of the sellar region: a systematic review

Pituitary. 2021 Feb;24(1):117-129. doi: 10.1007/s11102-020-01073-9.


Purpose and methods: Sarcomas of the sellar region are uncommon and unexpected tumors. Here, we review the cases reported in literature via a systematic search.

Results: Ninety-four patients, 58.5% male with mean age of 39.2 ± 17.2 years were included. Fifty-seven (62%) had soft tissue sarcomas (STS) and 35 (38%) bone sarcomas (BS). Sarcoma was a primary tumor in 66%, developed after radiotherapy in 31.9% and 7.4% were metastatic. Median time between radiotherapy and sarcoma development was 10.5 (11) years. Main presentation symptoms were visual disorders (87.9%), headache (61.5%) and III cranial nerve palsy (24.1%). After surgery, sarcoma persisted or recurred in 82.3% and overall mortality reported was 44.6% with 6.5 (14) months of median survival. Tumor appeared earlier in BS compared to STS (34.4 ± 15.1 vs. 42.6 ± 17.6 years), p = 0.034 and complete tumor resection was achieved more often (41.3% vs. 4.4%), p = < 0.001. Condrosarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma were more frequent subtypes among primary tumors while fibrosarcoma was among post-radiation sarcomas. Tumor size was larger in radiation associated sarcomas (mean maximum diameter 46.3 ± 9.3 vs. 29.1 ± 8.0 mm, p = 0.004) and persistency/recurrence was similar in both groups (70.1 vs. 73.3%, p = 0.259).

Conclusion: Sarcomas appear as mass effect symptoms in the middle aged population, mainly as primary tumors, but one third is associated with radiotherapy. Surgery is commonly not curative, mortality rate is high and death ensues shortly after diagnosis.

Keywords: Parasellar sarcomas; Pituitary tumors; Primary sarcomas; Radiotherapy-induce sarcomas; Sellar sarcomas.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Sarcoma / epidemiology
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / epidemiology*