Management of soft-tissue sarcomas: An overview and update
Soft-tissue sarcomas (STS) are relatively uncommon, especially when considered as individual histological subtypes (of which there are more than 50). Their incidence increases with age, although they are disproportionately common among children. When diagnosed and managed in a non-specialist environment, outcome is generally significantly poorer than if patients are managed by a multidisciplinary team in a tertiary centre of excellence. Prompt referral of patients with clinically suspicious masses is strongly advocated, before any type of intervention is attempted. This brief, opinion-based overview emphasises the team approach and provides a synopsis of the strategies used at our institution for pre-operative assessment and biopsy, surgical management, and the delivery of radiation therapy when appropriate (focusing on limb preservation and optimisation of function). Predictable variations in the natural history of these tumours, based on accurate histological subclassification, merit wider recognition. The role of systemic chemotherapy for soft-tissue sarcoma is still evolving, but at present the main aims are improved local control, disease-free survival, and quality of life. There are overall survival benefits for specific histological types, but this is a relatively small subgroup. Novel therapies, based on disease mechanisms at the molecular level, show promise for future advances.