Article Text


Soft tissue tumours.
  1. A. J. Hayes,
  2. J. M. Thomas
  1. Sarcoma Unit, Royal Marsden Hospital, London, UK.


    Any soft tissue swelling beneath the deep fascia should be considered a sarcoma until proven otherwise. As the most important factor in the primary treatment of these cancers is the adequacy of the primary surgical resection, it is vital to diagnose these malignant tumours pre-operatively. The modern treatment of soft tissue sarcomas may involve all modalities, but the most important aspect of treatment of a primary localised sarcoma is wide excisional surgery preserving limb function. Radiotherapy is a vital adjunct in high-grade tumours, or in tumours whose resectability is limited either by size or anatomical proximity to vital structures. Apart from a few chemosensitive sarcomas, the role of chemotherapy is limited to treatment of metastatic disease where documented response rates are no greater than 30%. As 50% of patients with high-grade sarcomas will die from metastatic disease, improvements in survival rates will only come from improvements in response to systemic therapy. No controlled trials have shown any survival benefit for adjuvant chemotherapy, although a recent meta-analysis of published data has shown a trend to increased survival at two years. Multicentre randomised trials are ongoing. The prognosis of these lesions is highly variable, but is intimately related to the anatomical site (i.e., resectability), and also the grade and size of the tumour.

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