Pathophysiology: A soft-tissue sarcoma is a form of sarcoma that develops in connective tissue, though the term is sometimes applied to elements of the soft tissue that are not currently considered connective tissue.
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: Records of 12 men and 8 women aged 70 to 91 (mean, 77) years with bone or soft-tissue sarcomas were retrospectively reviewed. The mean follow-up period was 37 (range, 2-137) months. Their 5-year survival rates were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method, and compared with 110 younger controls aged 9 to 69 (mean, 45) years during the same period. There was no significant difference between the older patients and younger controls regarding tumour grading (p=0.068, Chi squared test), stage, and pathological diagnosis. Of the 14 soft-tissue sarcomas, 9 were malignant fibrous histiocytomas, 3 were myxofibrosarcomas. Of the 110 younger controls, 30 had bone and 80 had soft-tissue sarcomas; 44 were low grade and 66 were high grade. The 5-year survival rate was significantly lower in older patients than in younger controls (35% vs 65%, p=0.048). Regarding bone versus soft-tissue sarcomas, the 5-year survival rate was not significantly different among older patients (0% vs 52%, p=0.068) or younger controls 61% vs 66%, p=0.863).