Progress in the recognition and treatment of soft tissue sarcomas

F. R. Eilber, J. F. Huth, J. Mirra, G. Rosen

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32 Scopus citations


Over the past 10 years there has been significant progress made in the recognition and treatment of soft tissue sarcomas. With the advent of CAT scans and MRI, preoperative delineation of soft tissue tumors has become readily available. The dignostic use of these modalities in patients presenting with an illdefined asymptomatic mass has been extremely helpful in terms of screening patients to decide whether or not a biopsy is indicated. These techniques have also provided a much clearer delineation of the anatomic extent of the primary tumor, which has been of great assistance both in radiation therapy treatment calculations as well as in preoperative surgical planning. The recognition that tumor grade is the dominant prognostic variable has resulted in the more common use of a grading system, and a more uniform reporting and stratification of end results. Recent studies with immunohistochemical staining have proven of value in determining the histogenesis of many tumors that in the past were difficult to classify accurately. Most recently the use of flow cytometry suggests that this will also be a valuable adjunct in determining tumor grade and thereby prognosis. The most recent investigations of molecular biologic evaluation of genetic DNA and RNA sequences, as well as of oncogenes are extremely interesting from a diagnostic standpoint and in demonstrating the potential of molecular biologic evaluation for understanding the origin of these tumors. Multimodality therapy with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or all three has resulted in a marked improvement in local tumor control for patients with soft tissue sarcomas. The combination of modalities has allowed smaller surgical excisions of the tumor and thereby preservation of the extremity and much of its function. There are currently several different methods of multimodality therapy used including neoadjuvant therapy and postoperative therapy, both of which have been proven efficacious. Chemotherapy is now playing an increased role in clinical investigation and treatment. The availability of Adriamycin, DTIC, cisplatin, and most recently ifosfamide has added several chemotherapeutic agents for use by the clinician. Combination chemotherapy and radiation is of value in the neoadjuvant setting, the several studies are now underway to determine whether postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy is of similar value in reducing systemic spread of disease. Finally, surgical resection of pulmonary metastases has been proven of value in 20% to 25% of patients who subsequently develop metastatic disease. As a result of these advances in several different treatment disciplines, the overall survival rate and quality of life of patients with soft tissue sarcoma have improved markedly over the past 10 years. With the advent of newer chemotherapeutic agents and molecular biologic techniques, the next 10 years will, we hope, provide a similar improvement in disease control as well as in improved quality of survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-666
Number of pages7
Issue number3 S
StatePublished - Feb 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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