Gastrointestinal glomus tumors: A clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical, and molecular genetic study of 32 cases

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American Journal of Surgical Pathology








GIST; Glomus tumor; Immunohistochemistry; Pathology


Glomus tumors usually occur in the peripheral soft tissues, but similar tumors have also been reported in the stomach and occasionally in the intestines. However, the relationship of these tumors to peripheral glomus tumors and gastrointestinal stromal tumors has not been fully clarified because previous series of gastrointestinal glomus tumors predate availability of immunohistochemistry. This clinicopathologic study examined 32 gastrointestinal glomus tumors. All but one of the tumors were located in the stomach and the remaining tumor was from the cecum. The tumors occurred with a strong female predominance (23 females and 9 males) and a median age of 55 years (range 19-90 years). The gastric tumors typically presented with gastrointestinal bleeding or ulcer-like symptoms, and 14 tumors had mucosal ulceration. Five tumors were incidental findings. The tumor sizes varied from 1.1 to 7 cm (median 2 cm), and most were located in the antrum. Histologically, the tumors typically had a solid pattern of sharply demarcated, round glomus cells with prominent, mildly dilated pericytoma-like vessels. Vascular invasion and focal atypia were relatively common (seen in 11 and 13 cases, respectively), and low mitotic activity (1-4 per 50 high power fields), was seen in 10 cases. Immunohistochemically, all tumors were positive for α-smooth muscle actin and calponin, and nearly all had a net-like pericellular laminin and collagen type IV positivity. All tumors were negative for desmin and S-100 protein. Three tumors had focal synaptophysin positivity, but none was positive for chromogranin. All tumors lacked KIT expression and the GIST-specific mutations in the c-kit gene. Follow-up revealed one patient death of metastatic disease to liver at 50 months; this tumor had 1 mitosis per 50 high power fields, but had spindle cell foci, mild atypia, and vascular invasion. Thirteen patients were well and alive after long-term follow-up. Gastrointestinal glomus tumors occur almost exclusively in the stomach, and they have a good overall prognosis, but a small, unpredictable potential for malignant behavior exists. These tumors are phenotypically similar to peripheral glomus tumors and differ from epithelioid GISTs.

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