Spindle cell is a descriptive term for cancers that develop from cells that are narrower at the ends than in the center, explains Mayo Clinic. Spindle cell carcinomas occur in the epthelial tissue, while sarcomas occur in mesodermal tissue, according to Baylor Scott and White Health. Examples of spindle cell carcinomas include certain types of gastrointestinal, breast and skin cancers.
Physicians use a cancer's cell type to determine the best course of treatment and to estimate the cancer's prognosis, according to Mayo Clinic. For example, spindle cell melanoma is a rare subtype of skin cancer that is aggressive and tends to recur even with treatment, as stated by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Spindle cell melanoma does not often spread to other parts of the body, but it can cause death depending on its location and the depth of the tumor. It is most often diagnosed among elderly men and is typically found in the head and neck. Spindle cell melanoma tends to have more symptoms than other types of skin cancer because the tumors can involve nerves.
Spindle cell carcinoma is also a type of metaplastic breast cancer, notes the American Cancer Society. While it is generally treated like other types of infiltrating ductal carcinoma, patients with spindle cell breast cancer may have worse outcomes.