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Malignant melanotic nerve sheath tumors: A review of clinicopathologic and molecular characteristics

 Department of Haematology, Division of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Rawan M Hammad,
Department of Haematology, Division of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmau.jmau_5_22

Malignant melanotic nerve sheath tumor (MMNST) which was formerly known as melanocytic schwannoma, is an uncommon aggressive type of nerve sheath tumor. It originates from nerve roots with clonal Schwann cell proliferation and melanin pigment production. MMNST which was once thought to be a benign tumor is now considered a malignant disease based on the latest 2020 World Health Organization classification of soft tissue tumors. Interestingly, despite the histologic features appearing benign with a low proliferation index, the clinical course of this tumor is malignant, which was demonstrated in case series with high rate of recurrences and metastasis. This tumor can occur sporadically or in patients with an underlying familial predisposition syndrome called, Carney's complex. Affected patients will often harbor a germline mutation in the PRKAR1A gene. MMNST can be histologically difficult to distinguish from malignant melanoma, other melanocytic tumors, and Schwannoma. Having a better understanding of its clinic pathologic characteristics and associated conditions is essential in properly diagnosing and managing affected individuals. This includes the possible need for genetic testing to detect germline mutations, genetic counseling, and surveillance according to published recommendations. In this article, we summarize the clinic pathologic and molecular features of MMNST and discuss what is known about its molecular biology and its associations with predisposing conditions. The review was conducted through an extensive PubMed search using keywords then relevant publications were selected.

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