Giant cell tumor of soft tissue: FNA cytopathology of 4 cases, review of the literature, and comparison with giant cell tumor of bone

Cancer Cytopathol. 2022 Feb;130(2):120-127. doi: 10.1002/cncy.22517. Epub 2021 Oct 7.


Background: The cytopathology of a giant cell tumor of soft tissue (GCT-ST), a fibrohistiocytic neoplasm distinct from other giant cell-rich soft tissue tumors, is rarely reported. The authors report their experience with a series of 4 GCT-ST fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy cases and compare them with a set from giant cell tumors of bone (GCTBs).

Methods: The authors' cytopathology files were searched for GCT-ST examples with histopathologic confirmation. FNA biopsy smears were performed and examined with standard techniques.

Results: Four cases of GCT-ST presenting as a primary soft tissue mass from 4 patients (3 males and 1 female; age range, 28-75 years, mean age, 53 years) were retrieved. FNA sites included the anterior tibia, buttock, shoulder, and upper back. Three cases were interpreted as suspicious for sarcoma radiographically. The specific diagnoses were atypical giant cell tumor of tendon sheath, suspicious for GCT-ST, atypical myxoid lesion with giant cells, and benign with osteoclast-like giant cells (OLGCs). No case was interpreted as malignant. Aspirates consisted of mononuclear polygonal cells, spindled fibroblast cell clusters, and large OLGCs to the near exclusion of other cell types. OLGCs possessed 10 or more nuclei per cell. A comparison with GCTB aspirates and single case reports from the literature showed comparable cytomorphology.

Conclusions: GCT-ST FNA smears mimic those of GCTBs containing a limited population of uniform spindle cell clusters, single dispersed polygonal cells, and cytologically banal OLGCs. GCT-ST should be considered in the differential diagnosis of aspirates containing numerous osteoclast-like giant cells.

Keywords: fine needle; giant cell tumor; giant cell tumor of bone; osteoclast-like giant cells; soft tissue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Bone Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Bone Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Tumor of Bone* / diagnosis
  • Giant Cell Tumor of Bone* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sarcoma* / diagnosis
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms* / surgery