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Adult Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version
Last Modified: 02/28/2014

Stage I Adult Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Current Clinical Trials

Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of the roles of surgery and radiation therapy.

Low-grade soft tissue sarcomas have little metastatic potential, but they have a propensity to recur locally. Accordingly, surgical excision with negative tissue margins of 1 cm to 2 cm or larger in all directions is the treatment of choice for patients with these early-stage sarcomas.[1-3] The Mohs surgical technique may be considered as an alternative to wide surgical excision for the very rare, small, well-differentiated primary sarcomas of the skin when cosmetic results are considered to be important, as margins can be assured with minimal normal tissue removal.[4]

Carefully executed high-dose radiation therapy using a shrinking-field technique may be beneficial for unresectable tumors or for resectable tumors in which a high likelihood of residual disease is thought to be present when margins are judged to be inadequate, and when wider resection would require either an amputation or the removal of a vital organ.[5] Because of the low metastatic potential of these tumors, chemotherapy is usually not given.[6,7]

Standard treatment options:

  1. Surgical excision of tumors no greater than 5 cm in diameter with negative tissue margins in all directions.[8-12]

  2. Surgical excision with preoperative radiation therapy (preRX) or postoperative radiation therapy (PORT). Radiation decreases the risk of local recurrence but has not been shown to increase overall survival.[13-16]

  3. If the tumor is unresectable, high-dose preRX may be used.[17]

  4. For tumors of the retroperitoneum, trunk, and head and neck, the following are options:
    • Surgical resection with the option of PORT if negative margins cannot be obtained. Wide margins are unusual in these sites, and radiation therapy is usually advocated for trunk and head and neck primary sites.[18]

    • PreRX followed by maximal surgical resection. Radiation therapy may be used in sarcomas of the trunk and head and neck to maximize local control because of the inability to obtain wide surgical margins.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I adult soft tissue sarcoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References
  1. Singer S, Nielsen T, Antonescu CR: Molecular biology of soft tissue sarcoma. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1522-32. 

  2. Singer S, Maki RG, O'Sullivan B: Soft tissue sarcoma. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1533-77. 

  3. Malawer MM, Helman LJ, O'Sullivan B: Sarcomas of bone. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1578-1609. 

  4. Fish FS: Soft tissue sarcomas in dermatology. Dermatol Surg 22 (3): 268-73, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Temple WJ, Temple CL, Arthur K, et al.: Prospective cohort study of neoadjuvant treatment in conservative surgery of soft tissue sarcomas. Ann Surg Oncol 4 (7): 586-90, 1997 Oct-Nov.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Sarcoma Meta-analysis Collaboration (SMAC).: Adjuvant chemotherapy for localised resectable soft tissue sarcoma in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (4): CD001419, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Pervaiz N, Colterjohn N, Farrokhyar F, et al.: A systematic meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of adjuvant chemotherapy for localized resectable soft-tissue sarcoma. Cancer 113 (3): 573-81, 2008.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Al-Refaie WB, Habermann EB, Jensen EH, et al.: Surgery alone is adequate treatment for early stage soft tissue sarcoma of the extremity. Br J Surg 97 (5): 707-13, 2010.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Pisters PW, Pollock RE, Lewis VO, et al.: Long-term results of prospective trial of surgery alone with selective use of radiation for patients with T1 extremity and trunk soft tissue sarcomas. Ann Surg 246 (4): 675-81; discussion 681-2, 2007.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Fabrizio PL, Stafford SL, Pritchard DJ: Extremity soft-tissue sarcomas selectively treated with surgery alone. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 48 (1): 227-32, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  11. Rydholm A, Gustafson P, Rööser B, et al.: Limb-sparing surgery without radiotherapy based on anatomic location of soft tissue sarcoma. J Clin Oncol 9 (10): 1757-65, 1991.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  12. Rydholm A: Surgery without radiotherapy in soft tissue sarcoma. Acta Orthop Scand Suppl 273: 117-9, 1997.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  13. Yang JC, Chang AE, Baker AR, et al.: Randomized prospective study of the benefit of adjuvant radiation therapy in the treatment of soft tissue sarcomas of the extremity. J Clin Oncol 16 (1): 197-203, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  14. O'Sullivan B, Davis AM, Turcotte R, et al.: Preoperative versus postoperative radiotherapy in soft-tissue sarcoma of the limbs: a randomised trial. Lancet 359 (9325): 2235-41, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  15. O'Sullivan B, Davis A, Turcotte R, et al.: Five-year results of a randomized phase III trial of pre-operative vs post-operative radiotherapy in extremity soft tissue sarcoma. [Abstract] J Clin Oncol 22 (Suppl 14): A-9007, 819s, 2004. 

  16. Davis AM, O'Sullivan B, Turcotte R, et al.: Late radiation morbidity following randomization to preoperative versus postoperative radiotherapy in extremity soft tissue sarcoma. Radiother Oncol 75 (1): 48-53, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  17. Kepka L, DeLaney TF, Suit HD, et al.: Results of radiation therapy for unresected soft-tissue sarcomas. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 63 (3): 852-9, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  18. Brennan MF, Singer S, Maki RG: Sarcomas of the soft tissue and bone. In: DeVita VT Jr, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, eds.: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. Vols. 1 & 2. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008, pp 1741-1833.