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Unusual association of alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma with pancreatic metastasis: emerging role of PET-CT in tumor staging.



Pancreatic metastases in childhood cancer have been rarely reported in the radiology literature although ample evidence exists in pathology reports for its occurrence in patients with alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas (RMS).


Assess the occurrence of pancreatic metastases in alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas, increase awareness of this association and reassess current staging protocols.

Materials and methods

Three major oncology centers reviewed their records and imaging examinations. Patients' history and demographics, primary tumor site and histology, presence of tumor recurrence, and presence and location of other metastases were reviewed.


Pancreatic metastases occurred in eight patients with alveolar RMS. Four of these presented at diagnosis and four with disease recurrence. In recurrent disease, the duration between the diagnosis of the primary tumor and pancreatic metastases varied from 8 months to 6 years (mean +/- SD: 2.38 +/- 2.49 years). In all patients who received PET scans, pancreatic metastases showed a marked FDG-uptake, but had variable detectability with CT. Pancreatic metastases were not associated with certain primary tumor locations or presence of other metastases, mandating an evaluation of the pancreas in all cases of alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas.


Radiologists should be sensitized and actively evaluate the pancreas in patients with alveolar RMS. Optimizing CT and PET-CT protocols may increase the diagnostic yield.

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