What causes the high rate of local recurrence in soft-tissue tumors?

Updated: Dec 03, 2018
  • Author: Vinod B Shidham, MD, FRCPath; Chief Editor: Omohodion (Odion) Binitie, MD  more...
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Answer

Soft-tissue sarcomas have a propensity for local recurrence. Because recurrences are more difficult to treat than the primary lesion is, complete resection and appropriate use of radiation therapy are critical during the initial treatment. The pseudocapsule provides surgeons with a more or less obvious plane of dissection; however, such an excision can leave behind microscopic or occasionally gross tumor. This may lead to local recurrences in as many as 80% of patients. [4] The addition of postoperative radiation therapy decreases the risk of recurrence associated with a marginal resection.

Technical ease of resectability (and, thus, the likelihood of local control) may be affected by the location of a soft-tissue sarcoma. For example, lesions of the head and neck are more likely to involve or abut vital structures; consequently, they often are more difficult to resect than are lesions of the extremities. Even in an extremity, the tumor site may have prognostic implications. For proximal tumors, local control is more difficult to achieve than in tumors located more distally. Retroperitoneal sarcomas, which typically have a poor prognosis, have a higher proclivity for local recurrence and for intra-abdominal dissemination.

The pattern of recurrence generally is predictable, and most tumors destined to recur do so within the first 2-3 years. Adjuvant radiation therapy clearly minimizes local recurrence, but its ability to increase overall chances of survival, though likely, is not certain. Adjuvant chemotherapy may decrease the risk of local recurrence of high-grade tumors, presumably because of a reduction in the size of the tumor and an increase in the reactive zone, but this notion is very controversial.


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