Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are sarcomas on peripheral nerves or nerve sheath. These MPNSTs can occur on any cell type and differs from one to other. A sarcoma is regarded as MPNST only when it is raised on the peripheral nerve or it exists on neurofibroma. MPNSTs usually present as an enlarging palpable mass. Pain is a variable complaint. Rapid enlargement occurs more often in the setting of NF1 and should raise concern for malignant degeneration of a neurofibroma.
In Italy RASSF1A methylation was found only in the malignant samples (60%) and identified a subgroup among patients with NF1-associated MPNST with a poor prognosis. These patients had a mean 5-year disease-specific survival of 27.3 months (95% CI: 17.2-37.4) versus 47.4 months (95% CI: 37.5-57.2) for NF1 patients with unmethylated promoters, P = 0.014. In multivariate Cox regression analysis, methylated RASSF1A remained an adverse prognostic factor independent of clinical risk factors, P = .013 (hazard ratio: 5.2; 95% CI: 1.4-19.4).