Sarcoma botryoides

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Roukoz A. Karam, M.D.[2] Maria Fernanda Villarreal, M.D. [3]

Synonyms and keywords: Vaginal sarcoma; Embryonal vaginal rhabdomyosarcoma; Botryoid tumor


Sarcoma botryoides is a rare subtype of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. The botryoides subtype of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma accounts for about 10% of all rhabdomyosarcoma cases and arises from the sub-mucosal surface of body orifices such as the vagina, bladder and cervix. The most common clinical finding is vaginal bleeding. Sarcoma botryoides was first described by Guersant in 1854. Genes involved in the development of sarcoma botryoides include K-RAS gene and P53 oncogene. It is more commonly observed among girls aged 3 to 8 years old. If left untreated, patients with sarcoma botryoides may progress to develop direct extension to pelvic soft tissue structures. The mainstay of therapy for sarcoma botryoides is surgery and adjuvant multi-agent chemotherapy.

Historical Perspective

  • Sarcoma botryoides was first described by Guersant in 1854.[1]
    • The patient, a 13-month-old infant, had a polyp of the vagina that grew quite rapidly and resulted in death 2 months after it was first noted.
    • Granicher is said to have been the first to observe sarcoma botryoides at birth.
  • Pfannenstiel in 1892 actually was the first to call attention to the "grapelike" appearance of the tumor.[2]
    • The term “sarcoma botryoides” based on the tumor's gross appearance, has persisted in literature.



  • The pathogenesis of sarcoma botryoides is not fully understood.
  • Genes involved in the development of sarcoma botryoides, include:
  • Grape-like morphology
  • Fleshy nodular polypoid projections


  • There are no established causes for sarcoma botryoides.[3]

Differentiating Sarcoma Botryoides from Other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics


  • Sarcoma botryoides is very rare.
  • The prevalence of sarcoma botryoides remains unknown.[3]


  • The incidence of sarcoma botryoides decreases with age; the median age at diagnosis is 3 years.[6]
  • Sarcoma botryoides is more commonly observed among patients aged 3 to 8 years old.
  • Sarcoma botryoides is more commonly observed among young children.


  • Sarcoma botryoides affects females more frequently than males.


  • There is no racial predilection to sarcoma botryoides.

Risk Factors

  • There are no risk factors associated with the development of sarcoma botryoides.[7]

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis

  • The majority of patients with sarcoma botryoides remain asymptomatic.
  • If left untreated, patients with sarcoma botryoides may progress to develop direct extension to pelvic soft tissue structures.
  • If a patient presents with the classical presentation of a grape-like vaginal tissue, every doctor should be alarmed and commence rapid diagnosis followed by therapy.[8]
  • Common complications of sarcoma botryoides, include:



  • Sarcoma botryoides may be initially asymptomatic.
  • A classic textbook presentation of sarcoma botryoides is a ‘grape-like’ vaginal tissue loss.[8]
  • Symptoms of sarcoma botryoides may include the following:[3]

Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings

  • There are no specific laboratory findings associated with sarcoma botryoides.

Imaging Findings


Medical Therapy




  1. Rao, P. L. N. G.; Aithala, G.; Warrier, P. K. R. (1983). "Sarcoma botryoides of the vagina". The Indian Journal of Pediatrics. 50 (4): 445–448. doi:10.1007/BF02753388. ISSN 0019-5456.
  2. Hellriegel, W. (1985). "Primäre Sarkome der Weichteile". 19 / 6: 25–109. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-82387-9_2. ISSN 0085-1396.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Sarcoma Botryoides. Libre Pathology Accessed on May 11, 2016
  4. Palazzo JP, Gibas Z, Dunton CJ, Talerman A (1993). "Cytogenetic study of botryoid rhabdomyosarcoma of the uterine cervix". Virchows Arch A Pathol Anat Histopathol. 422 (1): 87–91. PMID 8438559.
  5. Zanetta G, Rota SM, Lissoni A, Chiari S, Bratina G, Mangioni C (1999). "Conservative treatment followed by chemotherapy with doxorubicin and ifosfamide for cervical sarcoma botryoides in young females". Br J Cancer. 80 (3–4): 403–6. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6690370. PMC 2362332. PMID 10408845.
  6. Hilgers RD (1975). "Pelvic exenteration for vaginal embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma: a review". Obstet Gynecol. 45 (2): 175–80. PMID 1090863.
  7. Comprehensive treatment for sarcoma botryoides of uterine cervix. Chinese Journal of Cancer Research June 1991, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 68-70 <nowiki>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 van Sambeeck SJ, Mavinkurve-Groothuis AM, Flucke U, Dors N (2014). "Sarcoma botryoides in an infant". BMJ Case Rep. 2014. doi:10.1136/bcr-2013-202080. PMC 4275735. PMID 25519859.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Koukourakis GV, Kouloulias V, Zacharias G, Maravelis G, Papadimitriou C, Platoni K; et al. (2009). "Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma of the uterine cervix". Clin Transl Oncol. 11 (6): 399–402. PMID 19531457.
  10. Esnaola NF, Rubin BP, Baldini EH, Vasudevan N, Demetri GD, Fletcher CD; et al. (2001). "Response to chemotherapy and predictors of survival in adult rhabdomyosarcoma". Ann Surg. 234 (2): 215–23. PMC 1422009. PMID 11505068.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Neha B, Manjunath AP, Girija S, Pratap K (2015). "Botryoid Rhabdomyosarcoma of the Cervix: Case report with review of the literature". Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 15 (3): e433–7. doi:10.18295/squmj.2015.15.03.022. PMC 4554283. PMID 26357564.