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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2008 Dec;51(6):760-4. doi: 10.1002/pbc.21699.

Treating Pediatric soft tissue sarcomas in a country with limited resources: the experience of the Unidad Nacional de Oncologia Pediatrica in Guatemala.

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Unidad Nacional de Oncologia Pediatrica, Guatemala City, Guatemala.



About 250-300 children with newly diagnosed cancer are treated each year at the Unidad Nacional de Oncologia Pediatrica in Guatemala City; less than 5% of them have soft tissue sarcomas (STS). The aim of the article was to evaluate whether the therapeutic standards achieved in STS in developed countries could be reproduced in a low-income country.


We reviewed the clinical data, treatment and outcome of 80 patients, 47 cases of rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) and 33 of non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcoma (NRSTS), treated between January 2000 and October 2007.


Most of the RMS patients had advanced disease at diagnosis (87% groups III-IV). Their 3-year event-free survival rate (EFS) was 26.4% if abandoning the treatment was considered as an event, or 32.4% if it was censored (14 patients abandoned the treatment), and the 3-year overall survival rate (OS) was 43.5%. Local progression/relapse was the main cause of treatment failure. Among the patients with NRSTS, the EFS at 3 years was 36.4% (when abandoning the treatment was considered as an event) or 43.3% (when it was censored), and the OS was 44.2%. Outcome was satisfactory for synovial sarcoma patients, those with tumors < or =5 cm, and those with localized disease.


Overall results were unsatisfactory compared to results reported from developed countries. Late diagnosis and the consequently high proportion of cases of advanced disease at diagnosis, the large number of patients failing to complete the treatment, and the poor quality of local control (in RMS) adversely influence outcome.

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