Your browser does not support javascript:   Search for gard hereSearch for news-and-events here.


Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Print friendly version


See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.


What is a hemangioendothelioma?

How might hemangioendothelioma be treated?

What is a hemangioendothelioma?

The term hemangioendothelioma describes several types of vascular neosplasms and includes both non-cancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) growths. The term has also been applied to those that show "borderline" behavior, intermediate between entirely benign hemangiomas and highly malignant angiosarcomas.[1] Hemangioendotheliomas are caused by abnormal growth of blood vessel cells, although the exact underlying cause for the abnormal growth is unknown. They can also develop in an organ, such as the liver or lung. They usually grow slowly and can sometimes spread to other tissues in the body (metastasize).[2][1] Examples of types of hemangioendotheliomas include spindle cell hemangioma; papillary intralymphatic (Dabska tumor); retiform; kaposiform; epithelioid; pseudomyogenic (epithelioid sarcoma-like hemangioendothelioma); and composite.[1] Treatment depends on the type of hemangioendothelioma present but typically includes surgical excision (removal).
Last updated: 7/10/2013

How might hemangioendothelioma be treated?

Treatment for hemangioendothelioma may depend on the type of hemangioendothelioma present in the affected individual and the risk of recurrence or metastases. In most reported cases, surgical excision (removal) of the mass has been the only treatment. For spindle cell hemangioma, simple excision is reportedly curative; however, new growths develop in adjacent skin and soft tissues in 60% of affected individuals. For individuals with papillary intralymphatic angioendothelioma (PILA), excision of the involved lymph nodes, as well as the mass, has been recommended. Surgical excision is reportedly also the usual treatment for individuals with retiform hemangioendothelioma (although local recurrence with this type is common), epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, and composite hemangioendothelioma (with the exception of 1 case treated with interferon).

Most individuals with pseudomyogenic hemangioendothelioma have been treated with simple excision, but a few individuals have also received post-surgical radiotherapy (RT).

With regard to kaposiform hemangioendothelioma, some large lesions cannot be completely removed and may cause fatal complications due to the associated Kasabach–Merritt syndrome. In these cases, several medical therapies have been used, including systemic corticosteroids; alfa interferon; RT; embolization; and several other therapies, both alone and in various combinations.[1]

A study by Scott et al published in 2012 in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology evaluated the effectiveness of RT as either an alternative or adjunct to surgery. The authors stated that the effectiveness of definitive RT in the treatment of hemangioendothelioma in their study implies that radiation may be an acceptable alternative when surgical resection will compromise function or cosmetic result. They concluded that with no local recurrences and minimal risk of toxicity, their long-term data suggest that RT offers a highly effective management option for this disease.[3]
Last updated: 7/10/2013

  1. Requena L, Kutzner H. Hemangioendothelioma. Semin. Diagn. Pathol. February 2013; 30(1):29-44.
  2. Sarcoma - Adult Soft Tissue Cancer. American Cancer Society. July 6, 2010; Accessed 2/14/2011.
  3. Michael T. Scott et al. Radiation Therapy for Hemangioendothelioma: The University of Florida Experience. American Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2012;