Uncommon case of brain metastasis in a patient with a history of heavy smoking

  • M. Scharl University Hospital Zurich
  • B. Bode University Hospital Zurich
  • E. Rushing University Hospital Zurich
  • A. Knuth University Hospital Zurich
  • T. Rordorf University Hospital Zurich
Keywords: Sarcoma, angiosarcoma, brain metastasis


Primary sarcomas of the aorta are extremely uncommon. Depending on histomorphology and immunohistochemical pattern, intimal sarcomas can show angiosarcomatous differentiation. Here, we describe the case of a 60-year-old woman with a primary intimal sarcoma of the aortic arch and signs of cerebral metastatic disease as the initial manifestation. After the patient experienced the onset of severe headaches, ataxia, and left-sided weakness, magnetic resonance imaging showed several brain lesions. Histologic assessment of a brain biopsy specimen revealed a malignant tumour composed of large pleomorphic cells that were positive for pancytokeratin and CD10. Radiation to the brain did not significantly improve the patient’s symptoms, and cranial computed tomography (ct) imaging revealed several metastases, indicating lack of response. Because of the patient’s smoking history, the presence of central nervous system and skeletal metastases on combined positron-emission tomography and ct imaging, and the focal pan-cytokeratin positivity of the tumour, carcinoma of the lung was favoured as the primary tumour.

Despite chemotherapy with cisplatin and etoposide, the patient’s neurologic symptoms and general condition deteriorated rapidly, and she died within a few days. At autopsy, an undifferentiated intimal sarcoma of the aortic arch was diagnosed. The primary tumour in the aorta consisted of large pleomorphic cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of the aortic tumour and brain metastases demonstrated diffuse positivity for vimentin and p53 and focal S-100 staining.

In summary, we report a challenging case of advanced intimal sarcoma of the aortic arch with brain and bone metastases at initial presentation. Our report demonstrates the difficulties in diagnosing and treating this disease, and the need for multicentre studies to accrue more patients for investigations of optimal therapy.

Author Biography

B. Bode, University Hospital Zurich
How to Cite
Scharl, M., Bode, B., Rushing, E., Knuth, A., & Rordorf, T. (2014). Uncommon case of brain metastasis in a patient with a history of heavy smoking. Current Oncology, 21(5), e728-e731. https://doi.org/10.3747/co.21.1880
Case Report