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Eur J Cancer. 1993;29A(4):618-23.

Surgery in soft tissue sarcomas.

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Sezione dei Tumori Muscolo-Scheletrici of the Divisione di Oncologia Chirurgica A, Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Milano, Italy.


The surgical treatment of soft tissue sarcomas improved in the last decade, with better regional control and an increased number of limb sparing operations, but procedures and criteria of indication are not unified. Moreover, a great discrepancy exists in the incidence rate of local recurrence reported in literature, and also major centres denounce a high rate of local failures. The major predictive parameters of adequate regional control are the size and location of primary lesion, the pathological grading, previous treatments and the quality of surgical margins. Results in terms of regional control of 417 cases treated at our institute in the period 1974-1984 are analysed and discussed. Local failure occurred in 113 cases (27% crude, 31% actuarial risk at 5 years) and has been analysed according to factors which had impact on local failures: pathological grading (low grade 24% local recurrence vs. high grade 35% recurrence, P = 0.05), site (extremity and girdle 26% vs. trunk and head and neck 47%, P = 0.001), previous surgical treatment (32% for lesions recurrent at entry vs. 43% for virgin tumours, P = 0.05), quality of margins (adequate surgery 24% vs. marginal surgery 47%, P < 0.001); intralesional operations are excluded from this series. Histopathology is stratified in four categories that can actually influence the treatment schedule: low grade, spindle cell type high grade, small blue cell, miscellaneous sarcomas of different or unclear histogenesis. The size is detailed in different definitions of small or large, in a site-size relationship which may be useful in surgical practice, with no prognostic purposes. Finally, the adequacy of a surgical treatment is evaluated and discussed by the quality of surgical margins, defined according to the concept of compartment. A surgical indication rationale is, therefore, proposed taking into account the above-mentioned parameters and conclusive points of discussion.

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