Biological behaviour and ezrin expression in canine rhabdomyosarcomas: 25 cases (1990-2012)

Dana R. Connell, Carlos O. Rodriguez, Rachel A. Sternberg, Kuldeep Singh, Anne Barger, Laura D. Garrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are few published reports of canine rhabdomyosarcomas. In human paediatrics, rhabdomyosarcomas account for 5%-10% of all tumours and >50% of soft tissue sarcomas. They have an aggressive biologic behaviour; most patients develop diffuse metastatic disease. Ezrin, a cytoskeleton linker protein, has been correlated with metastasis in a number of tumours, including rhabdomyosarcomas. The goal of this study was to describe dogs with non-urinary rhabdomyosarcomas including clinical findings, ezrin expression and outcome. Twenty-five dogs with rhabdomyosarcomas were identified from two institutions' databases. Signalment, primary tumour location, cytologic and histologic findings, metastatic sites, treatments, survival time and necropsy results were recorded. Immunohistochemical staining for ezrin expression was performed on archived samples; cellular localization of ezrin was characterized. The mean and median age of all patients was 4.3 and 2 years, respectively. Subcutaneous and retrobulbar/orbital were the most common primary tumour locations. Sixteen dogs had metastatic disease at diagnosis. Three dogs presented with diffuse disease where a primary tumour could not be identified. A round cell tumour was the initial diagnosis in 32% of cases, and 76% of cases required immunohistochemistry to establish the diagnosis. The median survival was 10 days. Twenty-one cases had archived samples available for ezrin staining; all but one was positive and exhibited both membranous and cytoplasmic localization. Rhabdomyosarcomas occur in young dogs, may have a round cell appearance, and exhibit aggressive biologic behaviour. Given ezrin's defined role in metastasis, its observed expression in the tumours in this study suggest its possible role in canine rhabdomyosarcoma's aggressive biologic behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-682
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary and comparative oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • comparative oncology
  • metastasis
  • pathology
  • small animal
  • tumour biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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