Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
 Open access journal indexed with Index Medicus & ISI's SCI  
Users online: 726  
Home | Subscribe | Feedback | Login 
About Latest Articles Back-Issues Articlesmenu-bullet Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe Etcetera Contact
 :: Next article
 :: Previous article 
 :: Table of Contents
 ::  Similar in PUBMED
 ::  Search Pubmed for
 ::  Search in Google Scholar for
 ::Related articles
 ::  Article in PDF (1,114 KB)
 ::  Citation Manager
 ::  Access Statistics
 ::  Reader Comments
 ::  Email Alert *
 ::  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free) 

  IN THIS Article
 ::  Discussion
 ::  References
 ::  Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded222    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 7    

Recommend this journal


Year : 2003  |  Volume : 49  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 83-4

Isolated splenic metastases occurring as an unknown primary lesion.

Department of Medical Oncology, Yuzuncu Yil University, School of Medicine, Van - 65200, Turkey. , Turkey

Correspondence Address:
S Alici
Department of Medical Oncology, Yuzuncu Yil University, School of Medicine, Van - 65200, Turkey.
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0022-3859.920

Rights and Permissions

Keywords: Adenocarcinoma, pathology,secondary,therapy,Case Report, Female, Human, Middle Age, Splenic Neoplasms, pathology,secondary,therapy,

How to cite this article:
Alici S, Kosem M, Kotan C. Isolated splenic metastases occurring as an unknown primary lesion. J Postgrad Med 2003;49:83

How to cite this URL:
Alici S, Kosem M, Kotan C. Isolated splenic metastases occurring as an unknown primary lesion. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2003 [cited 2023 Jun 9];49:83. Available from:

A 62-year-old female was referred for evaluation of enlarged spleen on physical examination. Abdominal examination revealed splenomegaly, the liver was not palpable, and rectal examination was unremarkable. Lactate dehydrogenase level was mildly elevated at 557 U/L (normal range, 240 U/L to 480 U/L). Results of other routine biochemical and hematologic tests were within normal ranges. The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level was 19 ng/mL (normal, 0 ng/mL to 3.4 ng/mL).

Computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis revealed an enlarged spleen containing a large solitary hypodense mass which had a lobulated contour. It showed no contrast enhancement. There was no evidence of internal soft tissue nodules or spotty calcifications. There was no evidence of extra-splenic extension or invasion of surrounding organs such as liver, retroperitoneum, and pelvic space. CT chest did not reveal any abnormalities. In the absence of any other metastatic lesions and, because it was believed that the splenic lesions would become symptomatic considering its size, the patient was advised to have a laparotomy for a possible splenectomy. At exploratory laparotomy, the spleen was found to be enlarged and its external surface was distorted. There were multiple enlarged splenic hilar lymph nodules. The liver, colon, and other viscera were normal. Splenectomy was done without complications, and the post-operative course was uneventful. The spleen was 1500 g in weight and measured 20x 15.6x 6.2 cm, the cut surface revealed a necrotic, haemorrhagic, cavitary lesion 7cm in diameter. The edges of the lesion showed beige coloured irregular, solid areas. Histopathologic examination revealed pleomorphic tumour cells with moderate cytoplasm. The tumour cell groups were arranged in solid, trabecular, alveolar and acinar pattern [Figure - 1] and poorly differentiated glandular pattern in tumor tissue [Figure - 2]. Immunohistochemical stains were performed for cytokeratin, neuron-specific enolase (NSE), chromogranin, and hormone receptors for invasive ductal carcinoma on formalin-fixed tissue. Tumor cells displayed strong cytoplasmic staining for cytokeratin, but no staining with NSE, chromogranin and hormone receptors. Primary tumor was suspected to be localized in pancreas, breast, colon, ovary or  Fallopian tube More Detailss based on histopathological examination. The case was reported as metastating poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma. Combination chemotherapy regimen (PF) consisting of cisplatin 75 mg/m2/day, on day 1 and 5-fluorouracil 600 mg/m2 /day, on days 1 to 5, intravenous every 4 weeks was initiated post-operatively. She received six courses of PF. No primary lesion was identified even in post-operative survey. The post-operative course was uneventful with no evidence of recurrence six months after the operation. At 4-month follow-up, the patient was asymptomatic, with a CEA level of 0. The CT of the abdomen showed no persistence or recurrence of disease.

  ::   Discussion Top

Prior large studies of splenic metastases were limited to autopsy series[1],[2] as ante-mortem diagnosis was rarely achieved. Only sporadic individual case reports of splenectomy for metastases existed before 1987.[3] Although only an autopsy series can identify the true frequency of splenic metastases in cancer patients, many of these metastases detected at autopsy may have been silent clinically. Splenic metastases are found with a frequency varying from 2.4 to 7.1%. The malignancies of the breast, lung, and pancreas, and malignant melanoma are the commonest cancers that metastasise to other organs.[4] Splenic metastases from a primary tumour of any source are usually a part of widespread metastatic disease and are reported at autopsy, with an incidence of 7%.[5] Spontaneous splenic rupture and consequent haemorrhage is a rare complication of these tumours.[6] In the presence of large splenic deposits, a splenectomy may be justified to avoid the potential catastrophic event of splenic rupture. Because of the high likelihood of widespread metastases, routine resection of the primary tumour may not be justified.

The spleen is full of immunologically competent cells such as lymphoid tissue and Kupffer’s cells, which may hinder the establishment of metastatic disease. An experimental study showed that the liver supported the uptake of transplantable mouse tumour cells, whereas the spleen appeared to retard this phenomenom.[7] A clinical study using radio-colloid imaging found that the rate of growth of splenic metastases was less than that observed for intra-hepatic metastases.[8] This phenomenon is probably related to the “immunologic surveillance” carried out by the spleen and it explains the apparent “poor soil” that spleen offers for tumour implantation. It is possible that the spleen produces several factors that inhibit tumour implantation and tumour growth. O’Reilly et al[9] described an anti-angiogenesis factor (named angiostatin) in an experimental model of murine lung cancer that was shown to interfere with tumour angiogenesis, which is an important component of tumour expansion and metastatic spread.

 :: References Top

1.Warren S, Davis AH. Studies on tumor metastasis. The metastases of carcinoma to the spleen. Am J Cancer 1934;21:517-33.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Berge T. Splenic metastases. Frequencies and patterns. Acta Pathol Microbiol Scand 1974;82:499-506.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Hulbert JC, Graf R. Involvement of the spleen by renal angiomyolipoma: Metastasis or multicentricity? J Urol 1983;130:328-9.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Vadala G, Caragliano L, Castorina R, Caragliano V, Caragliano P. Splenic metastases. Minerva Chir 1999;54:273-6.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Marymount JH Jr, Gross S. Patterns of metastatic cancer in the spleen. Am J Pathol 1963;40:58-60.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Gupta PB, Harvey L. Spontaneous rupture of the spleen secondary to metastatic carcinoma. Br J Surg 1993;80:613.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Miller JN, Milton GW. An experimental comparison between tumour growth in the spleen and liver. J Pathol Bacteriol 1965;90:5515-21.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Spencer RP. Intrasplenic metastases: radio-colloid studies of growth rate, response to therapy and possible splenic “immunity”. Invest Radiol 1980;15:379.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.O’Reilly MS, Holmgren L, Shing Y, Chen C, Rosenthal RA, Moses M, et al. Folkman J. Angiostatin: a novel angiogenesis inhibitor that mediates the suppression of metastases by a Lewis lung carcinoma. Cell 1994;79:315-28.  Back to cited text no. 9    


[Figure - 1], [Figure - 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Intraparenchymal metastases to the spleen from ovarian cancer: A case report
Ghani, A.A., Hashmi, Z.A., Chase, D.M., Patel, S.B., Jones, D.F.
Journal of Medical Case Reports. 2010; 4(art no 30)
2 Intraparenchymal metastases to the spleen from ovarian cancer: a case report
Abdul A Ghani, Zubair A Hashmi, Daniel M Chase, Shonak B Patel, Daniel F Jones
Journal of Medical Case Reports. 2010; 4(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Smoker of 59 years with spontaneous splenic rupture
Romero JIRC, Oliva RV, Utrera FH, et al.
REVISTA CLINICA ESPANOLA. 2008; 208(3): 163-164
4 Fumador de 59 años con rotura espontánea de bazo
J.I. Ramos-Clemente Romero,R. Vázquez Oliva,F. Henández Utrera,A. Benabente Fernández,M.J. Romero Jiménez
Revista Clínica Española. 2008; 208(3): 163
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Splenic metastases: Clinicopathologic presentation, differential diagnosis, and pathogenesis
Compérat, E., Bardier-Dupas, A., Camparo, P., Capron, F., Charlotte, F.
Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. 2007; 131(6): 965-969
6 Splenic Metastases: Clinicopathologic Presentation, Differential Diagnosis, and Pathogenesis
Eva Compérat, Armelle Bardier-Dupas, Philippe Camparo, Frédérique Capron, Frédéric Charlotte
Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. 2007; 131(6): 965
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 Focal lesions in the ultrasonographic examination of the spleen as a symptom of various disease statuses: Literature survey and case descriptions
Woszczyk D, Kolodziej-Jaskula A, Mykala-Clesla J, et al.


Print this article  Email this article
Previous article Next article
Online since 12th February '04
© 2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow