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Acta Oncol. 2012 Jul;51(6):706-12. doi: 10.3109/0284186X.2011.643821. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Soft tissue sarcoma - a population-based, nationwide study with special emphasis on local control.

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Department of Pathology, HUSLAB and University of Helsinki, Finland.



A prospective diagnostics and treatment protocol for extremity and trunk wall soft tissue sarcoma (STS) was introduced by the Scandinavian Sarcoma Group in 1986 and it was also widely adopted in Finland. We have updated the protocol and made it more detailed at the Helsinki University Central Hospital. We retrospectively compared diagnostics and treatment of STS in a nationwide population-based material to this protocol with special emphasis on local control.


Data for 219 patients with an STS of extremity or trunk wall diagnosed during 1998-2001 was retrieved from the nationwide Finnish Cancer Registry. Histologic review was performed. Treatment centres were divided into high-, intermediate- and low-volume centres based on the number of patients with final surgery during the study period.


Significantly more patients were operated with a preoperative histological or cytological diagnosis at high-volume centres. No preoperative diagnosis was a strong predictor for the patient to undergo more than one operation (p < 0.0001). Wide surgical margin was achieved more often at high-volume centres, but in all centre categories a considerable percentage of patients with inadequate surgical margin did not receive adjuvant radiation therapy. Local control at five years was 82% at high-volume centres, 61% at intermediate-volume centres treating highest percentage of deep tumours and 69% at low-volume centres (p = 0.046). Local control improved as the number of patients operated (surgical volume of the centre) increased.


The present quality-control study is the first nationwide population-based study to assess diagnostics and treatment of STS. When referred to a specialised sarcoma centre even patients with inadequate surgery can achieve good local control. STS is a rare cancer and its treatment should be centralised in Finland, which has 5.4 million inhabitants and approximately 100 new STSs of extremities and trunk wall annually.

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