• Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma Overview

    Malignant fibrous histiocytoma is a cancerous tumor that can start either in bone or, most often, in soft tissues that connect, support or surround organs and other body parts. These tumors are painless masses that often turn up in the extremities, but can occur anywhere in the body. They commonly spread to the lungs and lymph nodes.

    Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma Treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

    Patients with malignant fibrous histiocytoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Bone & Soft Tissue Program. Continue reading to learn more about malignant fibrous histiocytoma or visit the Bone & Soft Tissue Program homepage to learn about our expertise.

    Symptoms & Diagnosis

    Because they tend to affect tissue that is elastic and easily moved, these tumors may exist for a long time before they are discovered, growing large and pushing aside surrounding tissue. Common symptoms of malignant fibrous histiocytoma include:

    • Painless swelling or mass anywhere on the body
    • Pain or soreness caused by compressed nerves or muscles
    • Limp or difficulty using the legs, feet, arms or hands

    A physician may order a number of different tests to diagnose malignant fibrous histiocytoma. In addition to a physical exam and neurological testing (reflexes, muscle strength, coordination), these may include:

    • X-ray
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Computerized tomography (CT or CAT) scan
    • Bone scan
    • Biopsy 
    • Blood tests, including complete blood count and blood chemistries

    After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.

    Treatment & Care Options

    Treatment for malignant fibrous histiocytoma may include a combination of:

    Progressive or Recurrent Disease

    Malignant fibrous histiocytoma often recurs in the lung, bone or both. Local recurrence occurs in about 30 percent of cases, but most can be treated effectively with surgery. Clinical trials are available for patients whose recurrence cannot be removed by surgery.

    Long-term Outlook

    Children with small, low-grade tumors are likely to achieve a complete cure following treatment. For children with high-grade tumors, however, the five year survival rate ranges from 34 percent to 70 percent.
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