Symptoms: In their early stages, soft-tissue sarcomas usually do not cause symptoms. Because soft tissue is relatively elastic, tumors can grow rather large, pushing aside normal tissue, before they are felt or cause any problems. The first noticeable symptom is usually a painless lump or swelling. As the tumor grows, it may cause other symptoms, such as pain or soreness, as it presses against nearby nerves and muscles.
Treatment: The stage of the sarcoma is based on the size and grade of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body (metastasized). Treatment options for soft-tissue sarcomas include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery is the most common treatment for soft-tissue sarcomas. It is important to obtain a margin free of tumor to decrease the likelihood of local recurrence and give the best chance for eradication of the tumor.
Statistics: In total, 1024 patients who had synchronous metastatic (SM) STS or metachronous metastatic (MM) STS diagnosed between 1987 and 2006 were included prospectively in the French Sarcoma Group database after central histologic review. Four periods of diagnosis of metastatic disease were defined: P1, from 198 to 1991 (n ¼ 208); P2, from 1992 to 1996 (n ¼ 287); P3, from 1997 to 2001 (n ¼ 285); and P4, from 2002 to 2006 (n ¼ 244). Patient characteristics were analyzed as prognostic factors by using a Cox model. Although there was no significant difference in the median overall survival (OS) from P1 through P2 (P1, 12.3 months; 95% confidence interval [CI], 9.9-14.7 months; P2, 11.4 months; 95% CI, 9-13.9 months), significant improvements were observed in the later periods (P3, 15 months; 95% CI, 11.8-18.2 months; P4, 18 months; 95% CI, 15.3-20.7 months; P ¼ .029; log-rank test). The 2-year OS rate also increased throughout the study period from 28.1% during P1 to 38.7% during P4. On multivariate analysis, period of diagnosis, age, histologic subtype, time to metastatic recurrence, French Federation of Cancer Centers Sarcoma Group grade, and the number of metastatic sites were independent prognostic factors for OS. The current analysis revealed that the median OS of patients with metastatic STS had improved by 50% during the last 20 years.