What is the role of radiotherapy in the etiology of angiosarcoma (AS)?

Updated: Dec 02, 2020
  • Author: Maria Belén Carsi, MD, PhD, FRCS; Chief Editor: Edwin Choy, MD, PhD  more...
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Radiation-induced angiosarcomas occur in the absence of chronic lymphedema after radiotherapy for carcinoma of the cervix, ovary, endometrium, or breast and Hodgkin lymphoma.

The lesion arises in the area of previous radiation, with an interval between irradiation and the development of the new tumor of approximately 10 years. The risk of postradiotherapy sarcomas appears to augment with increasing dosage.

The diagnosis mandates that the lesion must have proven histologic differences from the primary neoplasm (carcinomas, lymphomas). Angiosarcomas of bone arising in a previously radiated bone are third in frequency after osteosarcoma and fibrosarcoma. Angiosarcoma of soft tissue is the first diagnosis in soft tissue sarcomas arising within the field of radiation, followed by malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH).

The Finnish Cancer registry [16] suggests that although an increased risk of angiosarcoma in cancer patients is evident, especially with breast [17] and gynecologic cancer, the excess does not appear to be strongly related to radiotherapy. Contrary to this finding, other researchers suggest that adjuvant radiotherapy increases the risk of breast angiosarcoma 9-fold. Regardless, radiation-associated angiosarcoma of the breast is rare, occurring in approximately 0.9 of 1,000 cases. Reported onset is as late as 23 years following radiotherapy. [18]

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