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Open Access Case report

Carcinosarcoma of the colon: report of a case with morphological, ultrastructural and molecular analysis

Andrea Ambrosini-Spaltro1, Valentina Vaira1, Paola Braidotti1, Marco PL Rovati2, Stefano Ferrero1* and Silvano Bosari1

Author Affiliations

1 Pathology Unit, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, A.O. San Paolo, via di Rudinì 8, 20142 Milan, Italy and IRCCS Foundation Policlinico Hospital, Mangiagalli and Regina Elena, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

2 Abdominal and Thoracic Surgery Unit, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, A.O. San Paolo, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:185  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-185

Published: 12 July 2006



Carcinosarcoma of the colon is a rare histopathological entity with uncertain histogenesis, that shows both epithelial and mesenchymal malignant differentiation. Carcinosarcoma rarely affects the gastrointestinal tract and only few cases are reported in the colon. Herein we describe a carcinosarcoma of the ascending colon, with morphological, ultrastructural and molecular analysis.

Case presentation

An 81-year-old man was hospitalised for asthenia, weight loss and iron-deficiency anaemia. The patient underwent colonoscopy and adenocarcinoma was diagnosed by endoscopic biopsy. A right hemicolectomy was performed and, during surgical operation, liver metastases were detected. Histological examination of the surgical specimen revealed areas of both carcinomatous and sarcomatous differentiation, completely separated by fibrous septae. The sarcomatous component exhibited areas of smooth muscle and osteoblastic differentiation, with focal osteoid material deposition. Molecular analysis conducted separately on the epithelial and mesenchymal components revealed the same p53 gene mutation (R282W in exon 8) and identical polymorphisms in p53 exon 4, in EGFR exons 20 and 21, and in c-kit exon 17. Microsatellite markers analysis revealed a common loss of heterozygosis on 18q. Overall, the data are consistent with a common origin of the two tumor components. The patient was treated with 8 cycles of oral capecitabine (1250 mg/m2 twice a day for 14 days repeated every 28 days) and two years after surgery is alive with liver metastases.


Carcinosarcoma of the colon is a rare tumour with both epithelial and sarcomatous components. Molecular analysis of the current case suggests the histogenesis from a common cell progenitor.