Which physical findings are characteristic of malignant granular cell tumors (GCTs)?

Updated: Nov 12, 2020
  • Author: Vladimir O Osipov, MD; Chief Editor: E Jason Abel, MD  more...
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Malignant granular cell tumors are rare. By convention, granular cell tumors are classified as malignant when their constituent cells show cytologic features of malignancy or when a morphologically benign granular cell tumor metastasizes to regional lymph nodes or distant sites or otherwise causes death.

Malignancy is encountered more often in deep-seated lesions in adults, with a mean patient age of 50 years. Sex and race distribution of malignant tumors mirrors that of benign lesions. A history of long clinical duration and rapid recent growth has been observed in some cases, suggesting a possibility of malignant transformation from a preexisting benign granular cell tumor.

The lesions are usually larger (ie, 4-15 cm) and may be locally destructive, thus causing symptoms (eg, pressure, obstruction, hemorrhage, ulceration, secondary infection) depending on the site. Metastases to regional lymph nodes and/or distant organs (most common site is the lungs) and concomitant symptoms may be present.

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