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: The purpose of this study was to examine all patients treated at the Instituto Nacional de Cancerologia for head and neck sarcoma during a 5-year period. Fifty-one adult patients were examined and treated for head and neck sarcomas from 2004 to 2009. The 51 tumours were histologically re-evaluated by expert pathologists and classified as low, intermediate or high grade sarcomas. A multivariate analysis was performed to evaluate the surgical margins, histological grades, and clinical stages as prognostic factors for the disease. Adult head and neck soft tissue tumours are rare, and they are associated with poor prognosis for patients, especially at clinical stages III and IV. The average survival rate after 2 years is 45%, and most of these patients die because of disease progression and metastases.