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Synovial sarcoma is a malignant tumor that develops in the synovial membrane of the joints. Learn about synovial sarcoma and find information on how we support and care for children and teens with synovial sarcoma before, during, and after treatment.
The Solid Tumor Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center treats children and teens with a variety of solid malignancies, including bone and soft tissue tumors, liver and kidney tumors, neuroblastomas, retinoblastomas and rare tumors. Our doctors provide unparalleled expertise in the diagnosis, treatment and management of these diseases.
Your child's care team will include pediatric oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, and nurses with expertise in treating your child's specific type of cancer.
Our physicians are focused on family-centered care: From your first visit, you'll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting your family's needs. We consider you and your child integral parts of the care team. Our specialists will collaborate with you to customize a treatment plan that takes the needs of your child and your family into account.
As well as providing access to a range of innovative clinical trials through Dana-Farber/Boston Children's, we are New England's Phase I referral center for the Children's Oncology Group, which means we're able to offer clinical trials unavailable at other regional centers.
Your child will have access to long-term treatment and childhood cancer survivor support through Dana-Farber's David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic.
From diagnosis through treatment and survivorship, our team will be able to answer all of your questions about your child's care.
Find out more about our Solid Tumor Center, including the diseases we treat and our specialized programs for bone and soft tissue tumors, liver tumors, neuroblastoma, rare tumors, and retinoblastoma.
Synovial sarcoma is a malignant tumor of the soft tissues, usually around joints. Under the microscope the tumor resembles synovial tissue (the lining tissue of joints). Synovial tissue is found around the tendons (bands of fiber that connect muscle to bone), and can form bursa (fluid filled cushioning pouches or sacs found in spaces between tendons, ligaments and bones) found in the area of joints.This condition tends to occur in adolescents and young adults and affects more males than females. The most common location of origin is the thigh near the knee, but synovial sarcoma can also occur near other joints, mainly in the arms and legs. Despite its name, it seldom arises within a joint.Synovial sarcoma can spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body, particularly to involve regional lymph nodes. Metastasis to distant body tissues occurs in about half of all cases, usually months to years after the initial diagnosis is made, although they are at times present at diagnosis.Synovial sarcoma is a rare tumor. It is one of many types of cancer classified as a soft tissue sarcoma, cancer that originates in soft tissue which includes fat, muscles, tendons, nerves, synovial tissue, blood vessels and other fibrous tissue. As a group, soft tissue sarcomas account for less than 1 percent of all new cancer cases each year. In the United States, approximately 900 children and adolescents are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcomas each year.
The exact cause of synovial sarcoma is not entirely understood, however, studies have indicated that genetic alterations may play a role in the formation of soft tissue sarcomas. Researchers have studied a small number of families that contain several members of one generation who have developed soft tissue sarcomas. In addition, limited studies have shown a possible link between soft tissue sarcomas and the development of other types of cancer.
In synovial sarcoma, a rearrangement in the chromosome material between chromosomes X and #18 is usually present. This rearrangement changes the position and function of genes, causing a fusion of genes referred to as a "fusion transcript." Patients have an abnormal fusion transcript involving two genes which creates a novel (new) gene. This important discovery has led to improvements in diagnosing rhabdomyosarcoma, and may lead to newer treatments in the future.Certain inherited diseases are also associated with an increased risk of developing soft tissue sarcomas. These include people with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (which involves alterations in the p53 gene) or neurofibromatosis (which involves alterations in the NF1 gene). For some soft tissue tumors, there seems to an association with an Epstein-Barr virus infection.
The following are the most common symptoms of synovial sarcoma. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms can depend on the size and location of the tumor. Sometimes the symptoms of synovial sarcoma can resemble those of arthritis, bursitis or synovitis. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of synovial sarcoma may resemble other conditions. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, the most conclusive diagnostic procedure for synovial sarcomas is a biopsy, a single tissue sample taken from the tumor through a simple surgical procedure. The tumor's cellular appearance under a microscope enables doctors to distinguish it from other types of cancer.Your child will likely undergo various imaging studies that will include one or more of the following:
Other tests include:
Once synovial sarcoma has been diagnosed, the tumor is staged. This process indicates how far the tumor has spread from its original location. The stage of a tumor suggests which form of treatment is most appropriate, and gives some indication of prognosis for the condition.A synovial sarcoma may be localized, meaning it has not spread beyond the joint where it arose or beyond nearby tissues, or metastatic, meaning it has spread to lungs, bones other than the bone that the tumor originated in, or to other organs or structures of the body.
Children with synovial sarcoma are treated through the Bone and Soft Tissue Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric hematology and oncology partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital. We utilize the expertise of both Boston Children's Hospital, consistently ranked one of the top children's hospital in the country, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a nationally recognized leader in cancer care and a member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Through our multidisciplinary approach, we provide in-depth discussion of each case and personalized treatment plans for every patient.
Specific treatment for synovial sarcoma will be determined by your child's treatment team based on:
Surgery includes biopsy and surgical removal of the entire tumors, nearby muscle and lymph nodes. Depending on the location and size of the tumor, it may be necessary to remove all or part of the limb. In most cases limb-sparing surgery is used to avoid amputation. The following is a description of both procedures:
Radiation therapy is a treatment that uses high energy rays from a specialized machine to damage or kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This is sometimes used in conjunction with surgery for synovial sarcoma, either before or after resection of the tumor. On rare occasions radiation alone is used for treatment of the primary tumor.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce. Different groups of drugs work in different ways to fight cancer cells and shrink tumors. Chemotherapy may be used alone for some types of cancer or in conjunction with other therapy such as radiation or surgery. Often, a combination of chemotherapy drugs is used to fight a specific cancer. Certain chemotherapy drugs may be given in a specific order depending on the type of cancer it is being used to treat.While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, the agents do not differentiate normal healthy cells from cancer cells. Because of this, there can be many adverse side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help the care team, parents, and child prepare and, in some cases, prevent these symtpoms from occurring, if possible. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, meaning it is introduced into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to kill cancer cells.Chemotherapy may be given:
Supportive care refers to any type of treatment to prevent and treat infections, side effects of treatments and complications and to keep your child comfortable during treatment.
A schedule of follow-up care will be determined by your child's physician and other members of you care team to monitor ongoing response to treatment and possible late effects of treatment. Treatment options will vary greatly, depending on your child's individual situation. Your child's physician and other members of your care team will discuss these with you in-depth.
Prognosis greatly depends on:
As with any cancer, prognosis and long-term survival can vary greatly from individual to individual. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis. Continuous follow-up care is essential for a child diagnosed with synovial sarcoma. Side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, as well as recurrence of the disease, can occur in survivors of synovial sarcoma.
Researchers at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's are conducting numerous research studies that will help clinicians better understand and treat soft tissue sarcomas.Other types of treatment currently being studied include:
Learn more about the Bone and Soft Tissue Program.Learn more about our solid tumor research and clinical trials.
Fortunately, cancer in children and adolescents is rare, although the overall incidence of childhood cancer has been slowly increasing since 1975. Children and adolescents with
cancer should be referred to medical centers that have a multidisciplinary team
of cancer specialists with experience treating the cancers that occur during
childhood and adolescence. This multidisciplinary team approach incorporates the skills
of the primary care physician, pediatric surgical subspecialists, pediatric radiation
oncologist, pediatric hematologist/oncologist, rehabilitation specialist,
pediatric nurse specialists, social workers, and others to ensure that
children receive treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation that will
achieve optimal survival and quality of life. Refer to the PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care summaries for specific information about supportive care for children and adolescents with cancer.
Guidelines for pediatric cancer
centers and their role in the treatment of pediatric patients with cancer have
been outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics. At these pediatric
cancer centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer
that occur in children and adolescents, and the opportunity to participate in
these trials is offered to most patients/families. Clinical trials for
children and adolescents with cancer are generally designed to compare
potentially better therapy with therapy that is currently accepted as standard.
Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapies for
childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials. Information about
ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved for children and adolescents with cancer. Between 1975 and 2010, childhood cancer mortality decreased by more than 50%. Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close follow-up because cancer therapy side effects may persist or develop months or years after treatment. Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for specific information about the incidence, type, and monitoring of late effects in childhood and adolescent cancer survivors.
Pediatric soft tissue sarcomas (STSs) are a heterogenous group of malignant tumors that originate from primitive mesenchymal tissue and account for 7% of all childhood tumors. Multidisciplinary evaluation in centers that have surgical and radiotherapeutic expertise is of critical importance to ensure the best clinical outcome for these patients. Although surgery with or without radiation therapy can be curative for a significant proportion of patients, the addition of chemotherapy might benefit subsets of children with the disease; therefore, enrollment into clinical trials is encouraged.
Rhabdomyosarcoma, a tumor of striated muscle, is the most common STS in children aged 0 to 14 years and accounts for 50% of tumors in this age group. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment for more information.) The remaining STSs are commonly referred to as nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs and account for about 3% of all childhood tumors. This heterogeneous group of tumors includes neoplasms of:
In children, synovial sarcoma, fibrosarcoma, fibrohistiocytic tumors, and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors predominate. The distribution of STSs by histology and age, based on the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) information from 1975 to 2008, is depicted in Table 1. The distribution of histologic types by age is shown in Figure 1.
Age <5 y
Age 5–9 y
Age 10–14 y
Age 15–19 y
% of the Total Number of STS Cases <20 y
All soft tissue and other extraosseous sarcomas
Fibrosarcomas, peripheral nerve, and other fibrous neoplasms
Fibroblastic and myofibroblastic tumors
Nerve sheath tumors
Other fibromatous neoplasms
Other specified soft tissue sarcomas
Ewing tumor and Askin tumor of soft tissue
pPNET of soft tissue
Extrarenal rhabdoid tumor
Blood vessel tumors
Osseous and chondromatous neoplasms of soft tissue
Alveolar soft parts sarcoma
Miscellaneous soft tissue sarcomas
Unspecified soft tissue sarcomas
pPNET = peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumors; SEER = Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results.
aDermatofibrosarcoma accounts for 75% of these cases.
Nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs are more common in adolescents and adults, and most of the information regarding treatment and natural history of the disease in younger patients has been based on adult studies.
Some genetic and environmental factors have been associated with the development of nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STS:
Although nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs can develop in any part of the body, they arise most commonly in the trunk and extremities. These
neoplasms can present initially as an asymptomatic solid mass, or they may be
symptomatic because of local invasion of adjacent anatomical structures.
Systemic symptoms (e.g., fever, weight loss, and night sweats) are rare.
Hypoglycemia and hypophosphatemic rickets have been reported in cases of
hemangiopericytoma, whereas hyperglycemia has been noted in patients with
fibrosarcoma of the lung.
When a suspicious lesion is identified, it is crucial that a complete workup, followed by adequate biopsy be performed. Generally, it is better to image the lesion before any interventions. Plain films can be used to rule out bone involvement and detect calcifications that may be seen in soft tissue tumors such as extraskeletal osteosarcoma or synovial sarcoma. Chest radiography and computed tomography (CT) of chest are essential to assess the presence of metastases. CT can be used to image intra-abdominal tumors, such as liposarcoma, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used for extremity lesions.
Nonrhabdomyosarcomatous soft tissue tumors are fairly readily distinguished pathologically
from rhabdomyosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma; however, classification of childhood nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STS type is often difficult. A core-needle biopsy or small incisional biopsy that obtains adequate tumor tissue is crucial to allow for conventional
histology, immunocytochemical analysis, and other studies such as light and electron microscopy, cytogenetics, fluorescence in situ hybridization,
and molecular pathology, given the diagnostic importance of translocations. Needle biopsy techniques must obtain an adequate tissue sample and usually require obtaining multiple cores of tissue. Image guidance using ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI may be necessary to ensure a representative biopsy. Incisional biopsies are acceptable but should not compromise subsequent wide local excision, and excisional biopsy of the lesion must be avoided. Transverse extremity incisions should be avoided to reduce skin loss, as should extensive surgical procedures before definitive diagnosis. For these reasons, open biopsy or multiple core-needle biopsies are strongly encouraged
so that adequate tumor tissue can be obtained to allow for crucial
studies to be performed and to avoid limiting future treatment options.
A single-institution analysis of adolescents and adults compared patients with unplanned excision of STS to stage-matched controls. In this retrospective analysis, unplanned initial excision of STS resulted in increased risk for local recurrence, metastasis, and death, and this increase was greatest for high-grade tumors.[Level of evidence: 3iiA]
Many nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs are
characterized by chromosomal abnormalities. Some of these chromosomal
translocations lead to a fusion of two disparate genes. The resulting fusion
transcript can be readily detected by using polymerase chain reaction-based
techniques, thus facilitating the diagnosis of those neoplasms that have
translocations. Some of the most frequent aberrations seen in
nonrhabdomyosarcomatous soft tissue tumors are listed in Table 2.
Alveolar soft part sarcoma
Angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma
t(12;16)(q13;p11), t(2;22)(q33;q12), t(12;22)(q13;q12)
Clear cell sarcoma
Congenital (infantile) fibrosarcoma/mesoblastic nephroma
Trisomy 8 or 20, loss of 5q21
CTNNB1 or APC mutations
Desmoplastic small round cell tumors
Extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma
t(9;22)(q22;q12), t(9:17)(q22;q11), t(9;15)(q22;q21), t(3;9)(q11;q22)
EWSR1/NR4A3, TAF2N/NR4A3, TCF12/NR4A3, TGF/NR4A3
Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor
t(2;2)(p23;q13), t(2;11)(p23;p15) 
TPM3/ALK, TPM4/ALK, CLTC/ALK, RANBP2/ALK, CARS/ALK
Low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma
Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor
17q11.2, loss or rearrangement 10p, 11q, 17q, 22q
Myxoid/round cell liposarcoma
Tenosynovial giant cell tumor
STS = soft tissue sarcoma.
aAdapted from Sandberg, Slater et al., Mertens et al., and Romeo.
The prognosis of nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STS tumors varies greatly depending on the histologic grade, invasiveness, tumor size, resectability, use of radiation therapy, site of primary tumor, and presence of metastases. Some pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs are associated with a better outcome. For instance, infantile fibrosarcoma, presenting in infants and children younger than 4 years, has an excellent prognosis given that the tumor is highly chemosensitive and surgery alone can cure a significant number of these patients.
Soft tissue sarcomas in older children and adolescents often
behave similarly to those in adult patients.
Pediatric patients with unresected localized nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs have a poor outcome. Only about one-third of patients treated with multimodality therapy remain disease free.; [Level of evidence: 3iiiA]
In a pooled analysis from U.S. and European pediatric centers, outcome was better for patients who received radiation therapy than for patients who did not, and outcome was better for patients whose tumor-removal procedure was deemed complete than for patients whose tumor removal was incomplete.[Level of evidence: 3iiiA]
long-term related morbidity must be minimized while disease-free survival is maximized, the ideal therapy for each patient must be
carefully and individually determined utilizing these prognostic factors before
initiating therapy for these patients.
Refer to the following PDQ summaries for information about other types of sarcoma:
Smith MA, Altekruse SF, Adamson PC, et al.: Declining childhood and adolescent cancer mortality. Cancer 120 (16): 2497-506, 2014.
Guidelines for the pediatric cancer center and role of such centers in diagnosis and treatment. American Academy of Pediatrics Section Statement Section on Hematology/Oncology. Pediatrics 99 (1): 139-41, 1997.
Pappo AS, Pratt CB: Soft tissue sarcomas in children. Cancer Treat Res 91: 205-22, 1997.
Ries LA, Smith MA, Gurney JG, et al., eds.: Cancer incidence and survival among children and adolescents: United States SEER Program 1975-1995. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, SEER Program, 1999. NIH Pub.No. 99-4649. Also available online. Last accessed August 15, 2014.
Okcu MF, Pappo AS, Hicks J, et al.: The nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas. In: Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds.: Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2011, pp 954-86.
Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: General considerations. In: Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: Enzinger and Weiss's Soft Tissue Tumors. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2008, pp 1-14.
Dillon P, Maurer H, Jenkins J, et al.: A prospective study of nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas in the pediatric age group. J Pediatr Surg 27 (2): 241-4; discussion 244-5, 1992.
Herzog CE: Overview of sarcomas in the adolescent and young adult population. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 27 (4): 215-8, 2005.
Chang F, Syrjänen S, Syrjänen K: Implications of the p53 tumor-suppressor gene in clinical oncology. J Clin Oncol 13 (4): 1009-22, 1995.
Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: Benign tumors of peripheral nerves. In: Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: Enzinger and Weiss's Soft Tissue Tumors. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2008, pp 825-901.
deCou JM, Rao BN, Parham DM, et al.: Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors: the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital experience. Ann Surg Oncol 2 (6): 524-9, 1995.
Stark AM, Buhl R, Hugo HH, et al.: Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours--report of 8 cases and review of the literature. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 143 (4): 357-63; discussion 363-4, 2001.
Groen EJ, Roos A, Muntinghe FL, et al.: Extra-intestinal manifestations of familial adenomatous polyposis. Ann Surg Oncol 15 (9): 2439-50, 2008.
Goto M, Miller RW, Ishikawa Y, et al.: Excess of rare cancers in Werner syndrome (adult progeria). Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 5 (4): 239-46, 1996.
Kleinerman RA, Tucker MA, Abramson DH, et al.: Risk of soft tissue sarcomas by individual subtype in survivors of hereditary retinoblastoma. J Natl Cancer Inst 99 (1): 24-31, 2007.
Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: Malignant fibrous histiocytoma (pleomorphic undifferentiated sarcoma). In: Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: Enzinger and Weiss's Soft Tissue Tumors. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2008, pp 403-27.
McClain KL, Leach CT, Jenson HB, et al.: Association of Epstein-Barr virus with leiomyosarcomas in children with AIDS. N Engl J Med 332 (1): 12-8, 1995.
Rao BN: Nonrhabdomyosarcoma in children: prognostic factors influencing survival. Semin Surg Oncol 9 (6): 524-31, 1993 Nov-Dec.
Zeytoonjian T, Mankin HJ, Gebhardt MC, et al.: Distal lower extremity sarcomas: frequency of occurrence and patient survival rate. Foot Ankle Int 25 (5): 325-30, 2004.
Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: Miscellaneous tumors of intermediate malignancy. In: Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: Enzinger and Weiss's Soft Tissue Tumors. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2008, pp 1093-1160.
Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: Enzinger and Weiss's Soft Tissue Tumors. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2001.
Recommendations for the reporting of soft tissue sarcomas. Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology. Mod Pathol 11 (12): 1257-61, 1998.
Chowdhury T, Barnacle A, Haque S, et al.: Ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy for the diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma in childhood. Pediatr Blood Cancer 53 (3): 356-60, 2009.
Qureshi YA, Huddy JR, Miller JD, et al.: Unplanned excision of soft tissue sarcoma results in increased rates of local recurrence despite full further oncological treatment. Ann Surg Oncol 19 (3): 871-7, 2012.
Sandberg AA: Translocations in malignant tumors. Am J Pathol 159 (6): 1979-80, 2001.
Slater O, Shipley J: Clinical relevance of molecular genetics to paediatric sarcomas. J Clin Pathol 60 (11): 1187-94, 2007.
Mertens F, Antonescu CR, Hohenberger P, et al.: Translocation-related sarcomas. Semin Oncol 36 (4): 312-23, 2009.
Romeo S, Dei Tos AP: Clinical application of molecular pathology in sarcomas. Curr Opin Oncol 23 (4): 379-84, 2011.
Ladanyi M, Lui MY, Antonescu CR, et al.: The der(17)t(X;17)(p11;q25) of human alveolar soft part sarcoma fuses the TFE3 transcription factor gene to ASPL, a novel gene at 17q25. Oncogene 20 (1): 48-57, 2001.
Ladanyi M: The emerging molecular genetics of sarcoma translocations. Diagn Mol Pathol 4 (3): 162-73, 1995.
Williams A, Bartle G, Sumathi VP, et al.: Detection of ASPL/TFE3 fusion transcripts and the TFE3 antigen in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue in a series of 18 cases of alveolar soft part sarcoma: useful diagnostic tools in cases with unusual histological features. Virchows Arch 458 (3): 291-300, 2011.
Antonescu CR, Dal Cin P, Nafa K, et al.: EWSR1-CREB1 is the predominant gene fusion in angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma. Genes Chromosomes Cancer 46 (12): 1051-60, 2007.
Barnoud R, Sabourin JC, Pasquier D, et al.: Immunohistochemical expression of WT1 by desmoplastic small round cell tumor: a comparative study with other small round cell tumors. Am J Surg Pathol 24 (6): 830-6, 2000.
Errani C, Zhang L, Sung YS, et al.: A novel WWTR1-CAMTA1 gene fusion is a consistent abnormality in epithelioid hemangioendothelioma of different anatomic sites. Genes Chromosomes Cancer 50 (8): 644-53, 2011.
Jain S, Xu R, Prieto VG, et al.: Molecular classification of soft tissue sarcomas and its clinical applications. Int J Clin Exp Pathol 3 (4): 416-28, 2010.
Spunt SL, Hill DA, Motosue AM, et al.: Clinical features and outcome of initially unresected nonmetastatic pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcoma. J Clin Oncol 20 (15): 3225-35, 2002.
Spunt SL, Poquette CA, Hurt YS, et al.: Prognostic factors for children and adolescents with surgically resected nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcoma: an analysis of 121 patients treated at St Jude Children's Research Hospital. J Clin Oncol 17 (12): 3697-705, 1999.
Ferrari A, Casanova M, Collini P, et al.: Adult-type soft tissue sarcomas in pediatric-age patients: experience at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori in Milan. J Clin Oncol 23 (18): 4021-30, 2005.
O'Sullivan B, Davis AM, Turcotte R, et al.: Preoperative versus postoperative radiotherapy in soft-tissue sarcoma of the limbs: a randomised trial. Lancet 359 (9325): 2235-41, 2002.
Ferrari A, Miceli R, Rey A, et al.: Non-metastatic unresected paediatric non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas: results of a pooled analysis from United States and European groups. Eur J Cancer 47 (5): 724-31, 2011.
Smith KB, Indelicato DJ, Knapik JA, et al.: Definitive radiotherapy for unresectable pediatric and young adult nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcoma. Pediatr Blood Cancer 57 (2): 247-51, 2011.
Dillon PW, Whalen TV, Azizkhan RG, et al.: Neonatal soft tissue sarcomas: the influence of pathology on treatment and survival. Children's Cancer Group Surgical Committee. J Pediatr Surg 30 (7): 1038-41, 1995.
Pappo AS, Fontanesi J, Luo X, et al.: Synovial sarcoma in children and adolescents: the St Jude Children's Research Hospital experience. J Clin Oncol 12 (11): 2360-6, 1994.
Marcus KC, Grier HE, Shamberger RC, et al.: Childhood soft tissue sarcoma: a 20-year experience. J Pediatr 131 (4): 603-7, 1997.
Pratt CB, Pappo AS, Gieser P, et al.: Role of adjuvant chemotherapy in the treatment of surgically resected pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcomatous soft tissue sarcomas: A Pediatric Oncology Group Study. J Clin Oncol 17 (4): 1219, 1999.
Pratt CB, Maurer HM, Gieser P, et al.: Treatment of unresectable or metastatic pediatric soft tissue sarcomas with surgery, irradiation, and chemotherapy: a Pediatric Oncology Group study. Med Pediatr Oncol 30 (4): 201-9, 1998.
The WHO lists the following cell types in its classification of STSs:
This summary focuses on high-grade sarcomas and low-grade tumors that present special problems in the pediatric and adolescent population, including desmoid tumor and infantile fibrosarcoma. For many low-grade STSs, surgical resection is curative and there is no need for additional therapy.
aNot a high-grade tumor; bThe category of fibrosarcoma can be inclusive of fibrosarcomatous differentiation in dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans; cCutaneous angiosarcoma may be difficult to stage using the American Joint Committee on Cancer system.
Soft tissue sarcoma. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 291-6.
Brodowicz T, Schwameis E, Widder J, et al.: Intensified Adjuvant IFADIC Chemotherapy for Adult Soft Tissue Sarcoma: A Prospective Randomized Feasibility Trial. Sarcoma 4 (4): 151-60, 2000.
Dantonello TM, Int-Veen C, Leuschner I, et al.: Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma of soft tissues and bone in children, adolescents, and young adults: experiences of the CWS and COSS study groups. Cancer 112 (11): 2424-31, 2008.
Steelman C, Katzenstein H, Parham D, et al.: Unusual presentation of congenital infantile fibrosarcoma in seven infants with molecular-genetic analysis. Fetal Pediatr Pathol 30 (5): 329-37, 2011.
Evans HL: Low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma: a clinicopathologic study of 33 cases with long-term follow-up. Am J Surg Pathol 35 (10): 1450-62, 2011.
Alaggio R, Collini P, Randall RL, et al.: Undifferentiated high-grade pleomorphic sarcomas in children: a clinicopathologic study of 10 cases and review of literature. Pediatr Dev Pathol 13 (3): 209-17, 2010 May-Jun.
Clinical staging has an important role in predicting the clinical outcome and
determining the most effective therapy for pediatric soft tissue sarcomas (STSs). As
yet, there is no well-accepted staging system that is applicable to all
childhood sarcomas. The system from the American Joint Committee on Cancer
(AJCC) that is used for adults has not been validated in pediatric studies.
Although a standardized staging system for pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STS does not exist, the last Children's Oncology Group (COG) trial used the sixth edition AJCC cancer staging manual for STSs (with central pathology review) (see Tables 3–6 below).
systems are currently in use for staging pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STS tumors.
The AJCC has designated staging by the
four criteria of tumor size, nodal status, histologic grade, and metastasis.
Primary tumor cannot be assessed.
No evidence of primary tumor.
Tumor ≤5 cm in greatest dimension.b
Tumor >5 cm in greatest dimension.b
aReprinted with permission from AJCC: Soft tissue sarcoma. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 291-8.
bSuperficial tumor is located exclusively above the superficial fascia without invasion of the fascia; deep tumor is located either exclusively beneath the superficial fascia, superficial to the fascia with invasion of or through the fascia, or both superficial yet beneath the fascia.
Regional lymph nodes cannot be assessed.
No regional lymph node metastasis.
Regional lymph node metastasis.
aReprinted with permission from AJCC: Soft tissue sarcoma. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 291-8.
bPresence of positive nodes (N1) in M0 tumors is considered Stage III.
No distant metastasis.
In most cases, accurate histopathologic classification of STSs alone does not yield optimal information about their clinical
behavior. Therefore, several histologic parameters, including degree of
cellularity, cellular pleomorphism, mitotic activity, degree of necrosis, and
invasive growth, are evaluated in the grading process. This process
is used to improve the correlation between histologic findings and clinical
outcome. In children, grading of STSs is compromised by
the good prognosis of certain tumors, such as infantile fibrosarcoma and hemangiopericytoma, which have a good prognosis in children younger than 4 years, and also angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, which may recur locally if incompletely excised, but usually do not metastasize.
Testing a grading system within the pediatric population is
difficult because of the rarity of these neoplasms. In March 1986, the Pediatric
Oncology Group (POG) conducted a prospective study on pediatric STSs other than rhabdomyosarcoma and devised the grading system that is
shown below. Analysis of outcome for patients with localized STSs other than rhabdomyosarcoma demonstrated that patients with grade 3
tumors fared significantly worse than those with grade 1 or grade 2
lesions. This finding suggests that this system can accurately predict the
clinical behavior of nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STS.
The grading systems developed by the POG and the French Federation of Comprehensive Cancer Centers (Fédération Nationale des Centres de Lutte Contre Le Cancer [FNCLCC]) Sarcoma Group are described below. These grading systems are being compared by the central review pathologists on the COG-ARST0332 study. The study has closed and results are pending.
The POG grading system is described below:
Grade I lesions are based on histologic type, well-differentiated cytohistologic features, and/or age of the patient.
Grade II lesions are STSs not included in grade I or III by histologic diagnosis (with <5 mitoses/10 high-power fields or <15% necrosis):
Grade III lesions are similar to Grade II lesions and include certain tumors known to be clinically aggressive by virtue of histologic diagnosis and non-Grade I tumors (with >4 mitoses per 10 high-power fields or >15% necrosis):
Any other sarcoma not included in grade I in which more than 15% of the surface area is necrotic or in which there are more than four mitotic figures per ten high-power fields (40X objective) is considered a grade III lesion. Marked atypia and cellularity are less predictive but may assist in placing tumors in this category.
The FNCLCC histologic grading system was developed for adults with STS. The purpose of the grading system is to predict which patients will develop metastasis and subsequently benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. The system is described in Tables 7 and 8.
Sarcoma closely resembling normal adult mesenchymal tissue (e.g., well-differentiated liposarcoma)
Sarcomas for which histologic typing is certain (e.g., myxoid liposarcoma)
Embryonal and undifferentiated sarcomas, sarcomas of doubtful type, and synovial sarcomas
0–9 mitoses per 10 HPF
10–19 mitoses per 10 HPF
≥20 mitoses per 10 HPF
<50% tumor necrosis
≥50% tumor necrosis
FNCLCC = Fédération Nationale des Centres de Lutte Contre Le Cancer; HPF = high-power field.
The two grading systems described above have proven to be of prognostic value in
pediatric and adult nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs. In a study of 130 tumors from children and adolescents with nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STS enrolled in three prospective clinical trials, a correlation was found between the POG-assigned grade and the FNCLCC-assigned grade. However, grading did not correlate in all cases; 44 tumors received discrepant grades and their clinical outcome was intermediate between those who were assigned grades 1 and 2 or 3 in both systems. A mitotic index of 10 or greater emerged as an important prognostic factor. The recently completed COG-ARST0332 trial will analyze data comparing the POG and FNCLCC pathologic grading systems to determine which system better correlates with clinical outcomes.
review of a large adult series of nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs, superficial extremity
sarcomas had a better prognosis than deep tumors. Thus, in addition to grade
and size, the depth of invasion of the tumor should be considered.
Several adult and pediatric series have shown that
patients with large or invasive tumors have a significantly worse prognosis
than do those with small, noninvasive tumors. A retrospective review of STSs in children and adolescents suggests that the 5 cm cutoff used for adults with STS may not be ideal for smaller children, especially infants. The review identified an interaction between tumor diameter and body surface area. This relationship requires further study to determine the therapeutic implications of the observation.
American Joint Committee on Cancer: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 6th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2002.
Maurer HM, Beltangady M, Gehan EA, et al.: The Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study-I. A final report. Cancer 61 (2): 209-20, 1988.
Harmer MH, ed.: TNM Classification of Pediatric Tumors. Geneva: UICC, 1982.
Parham DM, Webber BL, Jenkins JJ 3rd, et al.: Nonrhabdomyosarcomatous soft tissue sarcomas of childhood: formulation of a simplified system for grading. Mod Pathol 8 (7): 705-10, 1995.
Skytting B, Meis-Kindblom JM, Larsson O, et al.: Synovial sarcoma--identification of favorable and unfavorable histologic types: a Scandinavian sarcoma group study of 104 cases. Acta Orthop Scand 70 (6): 543-54, 1999.
Coindre JM, Terrier P, Guillou L, et al.: Predictive value of grade for metastasis development in the main histologic types of adult soft tissue sarcomas: a study of 1240 patients from the French Federation of Cancer Centers Sarcoma Group. Cancer 91 (10): 1914-26, 2001.
Guillou L, Coindre JM, Bonichon F, et al.: Comparative study of the National Cancer Institute and French Federation of Cancer Centers Sarcoma Group grading systems in a population of 410 adult patients with soft tissue sarcoma. J Clin Oncol 15 (1): 350-62, 1997.
Pisters PW, Leung DH, Woodruff J, et al.: Analysis of prognostic factors in 1,041 patients with localized soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities. J Clin Oncol 14 (5): 1679-89, 1996.
Coindre JM, Terrier P, Bui NB, et al.: Prognostic factors in adult patients with locally controlled soft tissue sarcoma. A study of 546 patients from the French Federation of Cancer Centers Sarcoma Group. J Clin Oncol 14 (3): 869-77, 1996.
Khoury JD, Coffin CM, Spunt SL, et al.: Grading of nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcoma in children and adolescents: a comparison of parameters used for the Fédération Nationale des Centers de Lutte Contre le Cancer and Pediatric Oncology Group Systems. Cancer 116 (9): 2266-74, 2010.
Brooks AD, Heslin MJ, Leung DH, et al.: Superficial extremity soft tissue sarcoma: an analysis of prognostic factors. Ann Surg Oncol 5 (1): 41-7, 1998 Jan-Feb.
Ferrari A, Miceli R, Meazza C, et al.: Soft tissue sarcomas of childhood and adolescence: the prognostic role of tumor size in relation to patient body size. J Clin Oncol 27 (3): 371-6, 2009.
Because of the rarity of pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcomatous soft tissue
sarcomas (STSs), all children, adolescents, and young adults with these tumors should
have their treatment coordinated by a multidisciplinary team comprising pediatric
oncologists, pathologists, surgeons, and radiation oncologists. To better define the tumors' natural
history and response to therapy, children with rare
neoplasms should be considered for entry into national or institutional
Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Every attempt should be made to resect the primary tumor with negative
margins before or after chemotherapy. Involvement of a surgeon with special expertise in the resection of STSs in the decision is highly desirable.
The timing of surgery depends on an assessment of the feasibility and morbidity of surgery. If the initial operation
fails to achieve pathologically negative tissue margins or if the initial surgery was done without the knowledge that cancer was present, a re-excision of the affected area
should be performed to obtain clear, but not necessarily wide, margins. This surgical tenet is true even if no mass is detected by magnetic resonance imaging after initial surgery.; [Level of evidence: 3iiA]
Regional lymph node metastases at diagnosis are unusual and appear most likely with epithelioid and clear cell sarcomas. Sentinel lymph node mapping is employed at some centers to identify
the regional nodes that are the most likely to be involved, although its
widespread contribution to the staging and management of these tumors has yet to be clearly defined.
Considerations for radiation therapy are based on the potential for surgery, with or without chemotherapy, to obtain local control without loss of critical organs, or significant functional, cosmetic or psychological impairment. This will vary according to patient variables, including age and gender, and tumor variables, including histopathology, site, size, and grade. Radiation therapy considerations include the same patient and tumor variables, surgical margin status, and expectations for radiation-induced morbidities such as impaired bone or muscle development, organ damage, or second malignancy. Radiation therapy can be given preoperatively or postoperatively, and the radiation field size and dose will again be based on patient and tumor variables and the operability of the tumor.
In general, radiation is indicated for patients with inadequate surgical margins and for larger, high-grade tumors. This is particularly important in high-grade tumors with
tumor margins smaller than 1 cm.; [Level of evidence: 3iiDiv] With combined surgery and radiation therapy, local control of the primary tumor can be achieved in more than 80%
of patients. Preoperative radiation therapy has been associated with
excellent local control rates. This approach has the advantage of treating smaller tissue volumes because it does not necessitate treating a postsurgical bed; it also has the advantage of somewhat lower radiation doses because relative hypoxia from surgical disruption of vasculature and scarring is not present. Preoperative radiation therapy has been associated with an increased rate of wound complications in adults, primarily in lower extremity tumors, but the degree of this is questionable. Conversely, preoperative radiation therapy may lead to less fibrosis than with postoperative approaches, perhaps due to the smaller treatment volume and dose. Brachytherapy and
intraoperative radiation may be applicable in select
situations.; [Level of evidence: 3iiiDii] In the recently closed COG-ARST0332 trial, preoperative radiation therapy was recommended for patients who presented with unresected tumor. The use of postoperative radiation therapy for patients who presented after primary resection was dependent on the tumor size, grade, and margin status.
Retroperitoneal sarcomas are a special issue since radiosensitivity of the bowel to injury makes postoperative radiation therapy less desirable. Reasons for this include the postoperative adhesions and bowel immobility that increase the risk of damage from any given radiation dose. This is in contrast to the preoperative approach in which the tumor often displaces bowel outside of the radiation field, and any exposed bowel is more mobile, which decreases exposure to specific bowel segments.
Radiation volume and dose depend on all patient, tumor, and surgical variables as noted above. Considerations include patient age and growth potential, the ability to avoid critical organs, epiphyseal plates, and lymphatics (but not the neurovascular bundles that are relatively radiation tolerant), and the functional/cosmetic outcome. Radiation margins are typically 2 cm to 4 cm longitudinally, and encompassing fascial planes axially. Radiation doses are typically 45 Gy to 50 Gy preoperatively, with consideration for postoperative boost of 10 Gy to 20 Gy if resection margins are microscopically or grossly positive, or planned brachytherapy if the resection is predicted to be subtotal. However, data documenting the efficacy of a postoperative boost are lacking. The postoperative radiation dose is 55 Gy to 60 Gy, or rarely, higher in the situation where unresectable gross residual disease exists.
The role of adjuvant (postoperative) chemotherapy remains controversial. A meta-analysis of updated data from adult STS patients from all available randomized trials concluded that recurrence-free survival was better with adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with high-grade tumors larger than 5 cm. The
largest prospective pediatric trial failed to demonstrate any benefit with adjuvant
vincristine, dactinomycin, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin. In a European trial, adults with completely resected STS were randomly assigned to observation or adjuvant chemotherapy with ifosfamide and doxorubicin. Adjuvant chemotherapy was not associated with improved event-free survival or overall survival. It is difficult to extrapolate this trial to pediatric patients because the trial included (1) a wide variety of histologies; (2) a relatively low dose of ifosfamide; (3) patients assigned to chemotherapy had definitive radiation delayed until completion of chemotherapy; and (4) almost one-half of the patients in the trial had intermediate-grade tumors. In the discussion section, the authors merged their patients with previously published series, including those from the European meta-analysis, and concluded that the results suggested a benefit for adjuvant chemotherapy.[Level of evidence: 1iiA]
Many therapeutic strategies for children and adolescents with soft tissue tumors are
similar to those for adult patients, although there are important differences.
For example, the biology of the neoplasm in pediatric patients may differ
dramatically from that of the adult lesion. Additionally, limb-sparing procedures are more
difficult to perform in pediatric patients. The morbidity associated with radiation therapy, particularly in infants and young children, may be much greater than that observed in
Improved outcomes with multimodality therapy in adults and children with STSs over the past 20 years has caused increasing concern about the potential long-term side effects of this therapy
in children, especially when considering the expected longer life span of children versus adults. Therefore, to
maximize tumor control and minimize long-term morbidity, treatment must be
individualized for children and adolescents with nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STS. These patients should be enrolled in prospective studies that
accurately assess any potential complications.
Okcu MF, Despa S, Choroszy M, et al.: Synovial sarcoma in children and adolescents: thirty three years of experience with multimodal therapy. Med Pediatr Oncol 37 (2): 90-6, 2001.
Sugiura H, Takahashi M, Katagiri H, et al.: Additional wide resection of malignant soft tissue tumors. Clin Orthop (394): 201-10, 2002.
Cecchetto G, Guglielmi M, Inserra A, et al.: Primary re-excision: the Italian experience in patients with localized soft-tissue sarcomas. Pediatr Surg Int 17 (7): 532-4, 2001.
Chui CH, Spunt SL, Liu T, et al.: Is reexcision in pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcoma necessary after an initial unplanned resection? J Pediatr Surg 37 (10): 1424-9, 2002.
Paulino AC, Ritchie J, Wen BC: The value of postoperative radiotherapy in childhood nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcoma. Pediatr Blood Cancer 43 (5): 587-93, 2004.
Kaste SC, Hill A, Conley L, et al.: Magnetic resonance imaging after incomplete resection of soft tissue sarcoma. Clin Orthop (397): 204-11, 2002.
Chandrasekar CR, Wafa H, Grimer RJ, et al.: The effect of an unplanned excision of a soft-tissue sarcoma on prognosis. J Bone Joint Surg Br 90 (2): 203-8, 2008.
Daigeler A, Kuhnen C, Moritz R, et al.: Lymph node metastases in soft tissue sarcomas: a single center analysis of 1,597 patients. Langenbecks Arch Surg 394 (2): 321-9, 2009.
Neville HL, Andrassy RJ, Lally KP, et al.: Lymphatic mapping with sentinel node biopsy in pediatric patients. J Pediatr Surg 35 (6): 961-4, 2000.
Neville HL, Raney RB, Andrassy RJ, et al.: Multidisciplinary management of pediatric soft-tissue sarcoma. Oncology (Huntingt) 14 (10): 1471-81; discussion 1482-6, 1489-90, 2000.
Kayton ML, Delgado R, Busam K, et al.: Experience with 31 sentinel lymph node biopsies for sarcomas and carcinomas in pediatric patients. Cancer 112 (9): 2052-9, 2008.
Delaney TF, Kepka L, Goldberg SI, et al.: Radiation therapy for control of soft-tissue sarcomas resected with positive margins. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 67 (5): 1460-9, 2007.
Blakely ML, Spurbeck WW, Pappo AS, et al.: The impact of margin of resection on outcome in pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcoma. J Pediatr Surg 34 (5): 672-5, 1999.
Skytting B: Synovial sarcoma. A Scandinavian Sarcoma Group project. Acta Orthop Scand Suppl 291: 1-28, 2000.
Hua C, Gray JM, Merchant TE, et al.: Treatment planning and delivery of external beam radiotherapy for pediatric sarcoma: the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital experience. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 70 (5): 1598-606, 2008.
Merchant TE, Parsh N, del Valle PL, et al.: Brachytherapy for pediatric soft-tissue sarcoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 46 (2): 427-32, 2000.
Sadoski C, Suit HD, Rosenberg A, et al.: Preoperative radiation, surgical margins, and local control of extremity sarcomas of soft tissues. J Surg Oncol 52 (4): 223-30, 1993.
Virkus WW, Mollabashy A, Reith JD, et al.: Preoperative radiotherapy in the treatment of soft tissue sarcomas. Clin Orthop (397): 177-89, 2002.
Zagars GK, Ballo MT, Pisters PW, et al.: Preoperative vs. postoperative radiation therapy for soft tissue sarcoma: a retrospective comparative evaluation of disease outcome. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 56 (2): 482-8, 2003.
Davis AM, O'Sullivan B, Turcotte R, et al.: Late radiation morbidity following randomization to preoperative versus postoperative radiotherapy in extremity soft tissue sarcoma. Radiother Oncol 75 (1): 48-53, 2005.
Schomberg PJ, Gunderson LL, Moir CR, et al.: Intraoperative electron irradiation in the management of pediatric malignancies. Cancer 79 (11): 2251-6, 1997.
Nag S, Shasha D, Janjan N, et al.: The American Brachytherapy Society recommendations for brachytherapy of soft tissue sarcomas. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 49 (4): 1033-43, 2001.
Viani GA, Novaes PE, Jacinto AA, et al.: High-dose-rate brachytherapy for soft tissue sarcoma in children: a single institution experience. Radiat Oncol 3: 9, 2008.
Al Yami A, Griffin AM, Ferguson PC, et al.: Positive surgical margins in soft tissue sarcoma treated with preoperative radiation: is a postoperative boost necessary? Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 77 (4): 1191-7, 2010.
Ferrari A: Role of chemotherapy in pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft-tissue sarcomas. Expert Rev Anticancer Ther 8 (6): 929-38, 2008.
Adjuvant chemotherapy for localised resectable soft-tissue sarcoma of adults: meta-analysis of individual data. Sarcoma Meta-analysis Collaboration. Lancet 350 (9092): 1647-54, 1997.
Woll PJ, Reichardt P, Le Cesne A, et al.: Adjuvant chemotherapy with doxorubicin, ifosfamide, and lenograstim for resected soft-tissue sarcoma (EORTC 62931): a multicentre randomised controlled trial. Lancet Oncol 13 (10): 1045-54, 2012.
Suit H, Spiro I: Radiation as a therapeutic modality in sarcomas of the soft tissue. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 9 (4): 733-46, 1995.
Liposarcoma is rare in the pediatric population. In a review of 182 pediatric patients with adult-type sarcomas, only 14 had a diagnosis of liposarcoma. One retrospective study identified 34 patients younger than 22 years from 1960 to 2011. There were roughly equal numbers of male and female patients and the median age was 18 years. In an international clinicopathological review, the characteristics of 82 cases of pediatric liposarcoma were reported. The median age was 15.5 years and females were more commonly affected. In both reports, the great majority of patients had myxoid liposarcoma.
Liposarcomas can be roughly divided into the following four large groups:
The great majority of liposarcomas in the pediatric and adolescent age range are low grade. Myxoid liposarcoma is typically low grade. Pleomorphic liposarcoma is typically high grade and much more likely to develop metastasis. Metastasis to lymph nodes is very uncommon, and the great majority of metastases are pulmonary. Tumors arising in the periphery are more likely to be low grade and myxoid. Tumors arising centrally are more likely to be high grade, pleomorphic, and present with metastasis or recur with metastasis.
Surgery is the most important treatment for liposarcoma. After surgical resection of myxoid liposarcoma, event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) are roughly 90%. Local recurrences have been seen and are controlled with a second resection of the tumor. Higher grade or central tumors are associated with a significantly higher risk of death. In a retrospective review, 5-year survival for central tumors was 42%. In the international review, seven of ten patients with pleomorphic myxoid liposarcoma died because of their disease. If initial surgery is incomplete, re-excision should be performed to achieve a wide margin of resection. There are reports of the use of chemotherapy to decrease the size of liposarcoma before surgery to facilitate complete resection, particularly in central tumors. The role of adjuvant chemotherapy for liposarcoma is poorly defined. There does not appear to be a need for any adjuvant therapy for completely resected myxoid liposarcoma. Even with the use of adjuvant chemotherapy, the survival of pleomorphic liposarcoma remains poor.
Chondro-osseous tumors include the following tumor subtypes:
Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma is a highly malignant tumor with a propensity to spread to the lungs.
A review of 15 patients younger than 26 years from the German Cooperative Soft Tissue Sarcoma Study Group (11 with soft-tissue lesions) and the German-Austrian-Swiss Cooperative Osteosarcoma Study Group (four with primary bone lesions) protocols suggests that complete surgical removal, or incomplete resection followed by radiation therapy, is necessary for local control.[Level of evidence: 3iiA]
Multiagent chemotherapy may decrease the likelihood of lung metastases: OS at 10 years was 67%, compared with approximately 20% in an earlier series of young patients.
Extraskeletal osteosarcoma is extremely rare in the pediatric and adolescent age range. A 2003 review identified only ten case reports in the medical literature.
Extraskeletal osteosarcoma is associated with a high risk of local recurrence and pulmonary metastasis.
The primary therapy for extraskeletal osteosarcoma is surgical resection of the primary tumor. Chemotherapy for extraskeletal osteosarcoma has not been well studied. It has been recommended that the treatment for extraskeletal osteosarcoma abide by the soft tissue sarcoma (STS) guidelines, rather than the guidelines for osteosarcoma of bone. A report of a series of adult patients with extraskeletal osteosarcoma suggested that adjuvant chemotherapy reduced the risk of recurrence. Extraskeletal osteosarcoma may be more chemosensitive in young patients than in adults. A retrospective analysis of the German Cooperative Osteosarcoma Study identified a favorable outcome for extraskeletal osteosarcoma treated with surgery and conventional osteosarcoma chemotherapy. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Osteosarcoma and Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma of Bone Treatment for more information.)
Fibroblastic/myofibroblastic tumors include the following tumor subtypes:
aNot a high-grade tumor.
Desmoid tumors are also known as aggressive fibromatoses.
Desmoid tumors are low-grade malignancies with extremely low potential to metastasize. The tumors are locally infiltrating, and surgical control can be difficult because of the need to preserve normal structures. These tumors also have a high potential for local recurrence. Desmoid tumors have a highly variable natural history, including well documented examples of spontaneous regression. Mutations in exon 3 of the beta-catenin gene are seen in over 80% of desmoid tumors and the mutation 45F has been associated with an increased risk of disease recurrence. Repeated surgical resection can sometimes bring recurrent lesions under control.
A small number of desmoid tumors may occur in association with a mutation in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene (associated with intestinal polyps and a high incidence of colon cancer). In a study of 519 patients older than 10 years with a diagnosis of desmoid-type fibromatosis, 39 (7.5%) were found to have familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) (a possible underestimation). The patients with FAP and desmoid tumors were younger, more often male, and had more abdominal wall or mesenteric tumors than did patients with desmoid tumors without FAP. A family history of colon cancer or the presence of congenital hyperplasia of the retinal pigment epithelium  or location of the desmoid tumor in the abdomen or abdominal wall  should prompt referral to a genetic counselor. Currently, there are no general recommendations for genetic testing in children with desmoid tumors. Pathology and molecular characteristics of the tumor only provide guidance for screening. If the tumor has a somatic CTNNB1 mutation, screening is not necessary, because the APC gene mutation has not been described in this setting. If a CTNNB1 mutation is not identified, screening for the APC mutation may be warranted.
The treatment of choice is resection to achieve clear margins. However, a retrospective review of children who underwent surgery for desmoid tumors at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital reported no correlation between surgical margins and risk of recurrence. Postoperative radiation therapy is a consideration when progression would entail additional surgery that might cause functional or cosmetic compromise and if radiation is considered acceptable in terms of morbidities. When the diagnosis is known and complete surgical excision is not feasible, and if the tumor poses
significant potential for mortality or morbidity, preoperative strategies may include the following:
Evaluation of the benefit of interventions for treatment of desmoid tumors has been extremely difficult, because desmoid tumors have a highly variable natural history.
Large adult series and smaller pediatric series have reported long periods of disease stabilization and even regression without systemic therapy.; [Level of evidence: 3iiiDi] Combination chemotherapy using vinblastine and methotrexate produced objective responses in about one-third of patients with recurrent or unresectable desmoid tumors. A small series of mainly adult patients (N = 19) with desmoid tumors were treated with imatinib mesylate and showed infrequent objective responses. A series of mainly adult patients with familial adenomatous polyposis and unresectable desmoid tumors that were unresponsive to hormone therapy showed that doxorubicin plus dacarbazine followed by meloxicam (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent) can be safely administered and can induce responses. Pegylated liposomal doxorubicin has also been used with some responses. Hydroxyurea may be useful, but more data are needed.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as sulindac have been used in single cases for desmoid tumors; the responses seen were usually disease stabilization. Similar results have been seen with antiestrogen treatment, usually tamoxifen. A prospective trial of the combination of tamoxifen and sulindac reported few side effects, although asymptomatic ovarian cysts were common in girls. This combination showed relatively little activity, as measured by rates of response and progression-free survival.[Level of evidence: 2Diii]
Radiation has been used for unresectable desmoid tumors or adjuvantly for tumors with inadequate resections. The potential long-term complications of radiation therapy, especially subsequent neoplasms, make using this modality less appealing in a young population.
Partially excised or recurrent lesions
that do not pose a significant danger to vital organs may be monitored closely
if other treatment alternatives are not available. Whenever
possible, however, the treatment of choice is complete resection.
There are two distinct types of fibrosarcoma in children and adolescents: infantile fibrosarcoma (also called congenital fibrosarcoma) and fibrosarcoma that is indistinguishable from fibrosarcoma seen in adults. These are two distinct pathologic diagnoses.
Infantile fibrosarcoma usually occurs in children younger than 1 year. It occasionally occurs in children up to age 4 years. It usually presents with a rapidly growing mass, often noted at birth or even seen in prenatal ultrasound. The tumors are often quite large at the time of presentation. The tumor usually has a characteristic cytogenetic translocation t(12;15)(ETV-NTRK3). Infantile fibrosarcoma shares this translocation and a virtually identical histologic appearance with mesoblastic nephroma. These tumors have a low incidence of metastases at diagnosis.
Complete resection is curative in the majority of patients with infantile fibrosarcoma. However the large size of the lesion frequently makes resection without major functional consequences impossible (for instance, tumors of the extremities often require amputation for complete excision). Preoperative chemotherapy has made a more conservative surgical
approach possible; agents active in this setting include vincristine, dactinomycin,
cyclophosphamide, and ifosfamide.; [Level of evidence: 3iiA]; [Level of evidence: 3iiB]
These tumors lack the translocation seen in infantile fibrosarcomas. They present like the great majority of nonrhabdomyosarcomas and the management approach is similar.
Dermatofibrosarcoma is a rare tumor, but many of the reported cases arise in children. The tumor has a consistent chromosomal translocation t(17;22)(q22;q13) that juxtaposes the COL1A1 gene with the PDGF-beta gene.
Most dermatofibrosarcoma tumors can be cured by complete surgical resection. Wide excision with negative margins or Mohs or modified Mohs surgery will prevent most tumors from recurring.
In retrospective reviews, adjuvant radiation therapy after incomplete excision may have decreased the likelihood of recurrence.
When surgical resection cannot be accomplished or the tumor is recurrent, treatment with imatinib has been effective.
Guidelines for workup and management of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans have been published.
Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor is an incompletely characterized neoplasm of intermediate biologic potential. It recurs frequently but metastasizes rarely. Roughly half of inflammatory myofibroblastic tumors exhibit a clonal mutation that activates the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-receptor tyrosine kinase gene at chromosome 2p23.
Complete surgical removal, when feasible, is the mainstay of therapy. In a series of nine patients, four patients who had a complete resection achieved continuous remission, three patients who had residual disease had a high recurrence rate and achieved continuous remission, and one patient who had metastatic disease responded to multiagent chemotherapy.[Level of evidence: 3iiA] There are case reports of response to either steroids or NSAIDs.
Low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma is somewhat misnamed, because its appearance is deceptively benign, but its behavior is malignant, although rather indolent. In a review, 21 of 33 patients had local recurrences after intervals of up to 15 years (median, 3.5 years) and 15 had metastases, mostly in the lungs and pleura, after periods of up to 45 years (median, 5 years), indicating that follow-up must be lifelong. Even after metastases occur, the course may be indolent.
The limited treatment information for low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma is summarized in the review above. This tumor is not very chemosensitive and there are little data regarding the use of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
Myxofibrosarcoma, low grade, is a rare lesion, especially in childhood. It is typically treated with complete surgical resection.
Sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma is another rare, usually low-grade, sarcoma. It is typically treated with complete surgical excision.
There are three forms of rhabdomyosarcoma:
Refer to the PDQ summary on Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment for more
A 24-year retrospective analysis of the Italian cooperative group identified one child with leiomyosarcoma. A retrospective analysis of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (SJCRH) experience from 1962 to 1996 identified 40 children with nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STS; none had leiomyosarcoma. Among 43 children with HIV/AIDS who developed tumors, eight developed Epstein-Barr virus–associated leiomyosarcoma. Survivors of hereditary retinoblastoma have a statistically significant increased risk of developing leiomyosarcoma and 78% of these were diagnosed 30 or more years after the initial diagnosis of retinoblastoma.
So-called fibrohistiocytic tumors include the following tumor subtypes:
Plexiform histiocytic tumor is a rare, low- to intermediate-grade tumor that most commonly affects children and young adults. Depending on the series, the median age at presentation ranges from 8 to 14.5 years; however, the tumor has been described in patients as young as 3 months.
The tumor commonly arises as a painless mass in the skin or subcutaneous tissue and most often involves the upper extremities, including the fingers, hand, and wrist. There are rare reports of spread to regional lymph nodes or the lungs.
No consistent chromosomal anomalies have been detected but a t(4;15)(q21;q15) has been reported.
Surgery is the treatment of choice but local recurrence has been reported in 12% to 50% of cases.
At one time, malignant fibrous histiocytoma was the single most common histiotype among adults with STSs. Since it was first recognized in the early 1960s, malignant fibrous histiocytoma has been plagued by controversy in terms of both its histogenesis and its validity as a clinicopathologic entity. The latest World Health Organization classification no longer includes malignant fibrous histiocytoma as a distinct diagnostic category but rather as a subtype of an undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma.
This entity accounts for 2% to 6% of all childhood STSs. These tumors can arise in previously irradiated sites or as a second malignancy in patients with retinoblastoma.
These tumors occur mainly in the second decade of life. In a series of ten patients, the median age was 10 years and the tumor was most commonly located in the extremities. In this series, all tumors were localized and five of nine (for whom follow-up was available) were alive in first remission. In another series of 17 pediatric patients with malignant fibrous histiocytoma, the median age at diagnosis was 5 years and the extremities were involved in eight cases. All patients with metastatic disease died and two patients experienced a clinical response to a doxorubicin-based regimen.
Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor arises in children with type 1 neurofibromatosis (NF1), and it arises sporadically.
Features with favorable prognosis include the following:
It is not clear whether the absence of NF1 is a favorable prognostic factor as it has been associated with both favorable  and unfavorable outcomes.
There is agreement that complete surgical removal of the tumor, whenever possible, is the mainstay of treatment. The role of radiation therapy is difficult to assess, but durable local control of known postsurgical microscopic residual tumor is not assured after radiation therapy. Chemotherapy has achieved objective responses in childhood malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor. A large retrospective analysis of the German and Italian experience with malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor reported that 65% of measurable tumors had objective responses to ifosfamide-containing chemotherapy regimens, but the analysis did not conclusively demonstrate improved survival for chemotherapy. This retrospective analysis also noted a trend toward improved outcome with adjuvant radiation therapy. A series of 37 young patients with malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor and NF1 showed that most patients had large invasive tumors that were poorly responsive to chemotherapy; progression-free survival was 19% and 5-year OS was 28%. The role of adjuvant chemotherapy after resection of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor has not been prospectively evaluated.
Tumors of uncertain differentiation include the following tumor subtypes:
This is a tumor of uncertain histogenesis. A consistent chromosomal translocation t(X;17)(p11.2;q25) juxtaposes the ASPSCR1 gene with the TFE3 gene. In children, alveolar soft part sarcoma often presents with metastases  and sometimes has a very indolent course. A subset of renal tumors found in young people
was previously considered to be renal cell carcinoma, but the subset now appears to be genetically
related to alveolar soft part sarcoma.
In a series of 19 treated patients, one group reported a 5-year OS rate of 80%, a 91% OS rate for patients with localized disease, a 100% OS rate for patients with tumors 5 cm or smaller, and a 31% OS rate for patients with tumors larger than 5 cm. In another series of 33 patients, OS was 68% at 5 years from diagnosis and 53% at 10 years from diagnosis. Survival was better for smaller tumors (≤5 cm) and completely resected tumors.[Level of evidence: 3iiA]
The standard approach is complete resection of the primary lesion.
If complete excision is not feasible, radiation therapy should be
A series of 51 pediatric patients aged 0 to 21 years with alveolar soft part sarcoma found an OS rate at 10 years of 78% and an EFS rate of about 63%. Patients with localized disease (n = 37) had a 10-year OS of 87%, and the 14 patients with metastases at diagnosis had a 10-year OS of 44%, partly resulting from surgical removal of primary tumor and lung metastases in some patients. Only 3 of 18 patients (17%) with measurable disease had a response to conventional antisarcoma chemotherapy, but two of four patients treated with sunitinib had a partial response.[Level of evidence: 3iiiA] There have been sporadic reports of objective responses to interferon-alpha and bevacizumab. In a phase II trial of cediranib, an inhibitor of all three known vascular epidermal growth factor receptors, 15 of 43 patients (35%) with metastatic alveolar soft part sarcoma had a partial response.[Level of evidence: 3iiDiv]
Patients with alveolar soft part sarcoma may relapse several years after a prolonged period of
apparent remission. Because these tumors are rare, all children with alveolar soft part sarcoma should be considered for prospective clinical trials.
The following is an example of a national and/or institutional clinical trial that is currently being conducted. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Clear cell sarcoma (formerly and inappropriately called malignant melanoma of soft parts), also called clear cell sarcoma of tendons and aponeuroses, is somewhat similar
to cutaneous malignant melanoma but is cytogenetically distinct; most cases
have a t(12;22)(q13;q12) translocation that has not been reported in
melanoma. In one series, clear cell sarcoma demonstrated a propensity to metastasize to regional lymph nodes (12%–43%).
Patients who have small, localized tumors with low mitotic rate and intermediate histologic grade fare best.
The primary treatment for clear cell sarcoma is
complete surgical resection, with the addition of radiation therapy for uncertain or involved margins.
Chemotherapy is rarely effective.; [Level of evidence: 3iiDii]
Desmoplastic small round cell tumor is a primitive sarcoma that most
frequently involves the abdomen, pelvis, or tissues around the testes.
The tumor occurs more commonly in males and may spread to the lungs and elsewhere.
Peritoneal and pelvic lesions frequently have widespread peritoneal implants. In a large, single-institution series of 65 patients, a correlation was made between computed tomography (CT) scans in most patients and positron-emission tomography (PET)/CT scans in 11 patients. PET/CT scans had very few false-negative results and detected metastatic sites missed on conventional CT scans.
Cytogenetic studies of these tumors have demonstrated the recurrent
translocation t(11;22)(p13;q12), which has been characterized as a fusion of the WT1 and EWS genes.
There is no standard approach to the treatment of desmoplastic small round cell tumor. Complete surgical resections are rare, and the overall prognosis for desmoplastic small round cell tumor remains extremely poor, with reported rates of death at 90%. A small series of patients who were treated with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy with acceptable toxicity has been reported.
Greater than 90% tumor resection either at presentation or after neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be a favorable prognostic factor for OS. Treatment may include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Multiagent chemotherapy analogous to that used for sarcomas has been used, as well as total abdominal radiation therapy.
Epithelioid sarcoma is a rare mesenchymal tumor of uncertain histogenesis which displays multilineage differentiation. It is characterized by inactivation of the SMARC gene, which is present in both conventional and proximal types of epithelioid sarcoma.
Epithelioid sarcoma commonly presents as a slowly growing firm nodule based in the deep soft tissue; the proximal type predominantly affects adults and involves the axial skeleton and proximal sites. The tumor is highly aggressive and has a propensity for lymph node metastases.
In a review of 30 pediatric patients with epithelioid sarcoma (median age at presentation, 12 years), responses to chemotherapy were reported in 40% of patients using sarcoma-based regimens, and 60% of patients were alive at 5 years after initial diagnosis. A single-institution retrospective review of 20 patients, including children and adults, found no difference in the probability of recurrence between patients who received chemotherapy and those who did not receive chemotherapy and suggested that radiation therapy may be useful. Surgical removal of primary and recurrent tumor(s) was most effective.[Level of evidence: 3iiiA]
PEComas (tumors showing perivascular epithelioid cell differentiation) include the following:
Benign PEComas are common in tuberous sclerosis, an autosomal dominant syndrome that also predisposes to renal cell cancer and brain tumors. Tuberous sclerosis is caused by germline inactivation of either TSC1 (9q34) or TSC2 (16p13.3), and the same tumor suppressor genes are inactivated somatically in sporadic PEComas. Inactivation of either gene results in stimulation of the mTOR pathway, providing the basis for the treatment of nonsurgically curable PEComas with mTOR inhibitors.
PEComas occur in various rare gastrointestinal, pulmonary, gynecologic, and genitourinary sites. Soft tissue, visceral, and gynecologic PEComas are more commonly seen in middle-aged female patients and are usually not associated with the tuberous sclerosis complex. Most PEComas have a benign clinical course, but malignant behavior has been reported and can be predicted based on the size of the tumor, mitotic rate, and presence of necrosis.
Malignant rhabdoid tumors were first described in children with renal tumors in 1981 (refer to the Wilms Tumor and Other Childhood Kidney Tumors Treatment summary for more information) and were later found in a variety of extrarenal sites. They are uncommon and highly malignant, especially in children younger than 2 years. The first sizeable series of 26 childhood patients with extrarenal extracranial malignant rhabdoid tumor of soft tissues came from patients enrolled on the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Studies I through III during a review of pathology material. Only five patients (19%) were alive without disease. Later, investigation of children with atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors of the brain, as well as those with renal and extrarenal malignant rhabdoid tumors, found germline and acquired mutations of the SMARCB1 gene in all 29 tumors tested. Rhabdoid tumors may be associated with germline mutations of the SMARCB1 gene and may be inherited from an apparently unaffected parent. This observation was extended to 32 malignant rhabdoid tumors at all sites in patients whose mean age at diagnosis was 12 months. The disease can occur congenitally  and is uncommon in older children and adults.
In a Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) study of 229 patients with renal, central nervous system, and extrarenal malignant rhabdoid tumor, patients aged 2 to 18 years, limited extent of tumor, and delivery of radiation therapy were shown to affect the outcome favorably compared with other patients (P < .002 for each comparison). Site of the primary tumor was not prognostically significant. OS at 5 years was 33%.
Treatment includes surgical removal when possible, chemotherapy as used for STSs (but no single regimen is currently accepted as best), and radiation therapy.[Level of evidence: 3iA]; [Level of evidence: 3iiiB]
Extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma is relatively rare among STSs, representing only 2.3% of all STSs. It has been reported in children and adolescents.
Extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma is a multinodular neoplasm. The rounded cells are arranged in cords and strands in a chondroitin sulfate myxoid background. Several cytogenetic abnormalities have been identified (see Table 2), with the most frequent being the translocation t(9;22)(q22;q12), involving the EWSR1/NR4A3 genes. The tumor has traditionally been considered of low-grade malignant potential. However, recent reports from large institutions showed that extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma has significant malignant potential, especially if patients are followed for a long time. Patients tend to have slow protracted courses. Nodal involvement has been well described. Local recurrence (57%) and metastatic spread to lungs (26%) have been reported.
The therapeutic benefit of chemotherapy has not been established. Aggressive local control and aggressive resection of metastases led to OS of 87% at 5 years and 63% at 10 years. There may be potential genetic targets for small molecules, but these should be studied as part of a clinical trial.
(Refer to the PDQ summary on Ewing Sarcoma Treatment for more information.)
Synovial sarcoma is one of the most common nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs in children and adolescents. In a SEER review from 1973 to 2005, 1,268 patients with synovial sarcoma were identified. Approximately 17% of these patients were children and adolescents and the median age at diagnosis was 34 years. The most common location is the extremities, followed by trunk and head and neck. Patients younger than 10 years have more favorable outcomes and clinical features, including extremity primaries, smaller tumors, and localized disease, than do older patients.
Synovial sarcoma can be subclassified as
the following types:
The diagnosis of synovial sarcoma is made by immunohistochemical analysis,
ultrastructural findings, and demonstration of the specific chromosomal
translocation t(x;18)(p11.2;q11.2). This abnormality is specific for synovial
sarcoma and is found in all morphologic subtypes. Synovial sarcoma results in rearrangement
of the SYT gene on chromosome 18 with one of the subtypes (1, 2, or 4) of the SSX gene on chromosome X. It is thought that the SYT/SSX18 transcript promotes epigenetic silencing of key tumor suppressor genes. Reduced INI1 nuclear reactivity on immunohistochemical staining is typical of most synovial sarcomas examined and does not occur with other similar histologies, thus providing a fast diagnosis while awaiting genetic studies.
The most common site of metastasis is the lung. The risk of metastases is highly influenced by tumor size; it is estimated that patients with tumors that measure greater than 5 cm have a 32-fold risk of developing metastases when compared with other patients.
In a retrospective analysis of synovial sarcoma in children and adolescents who were treated in Germany and Italy, tumor size (>5 cm or ≤5 cm in greatest dimension) was an important predictor of EFS. In this analysis, local invasiveness conferred an inferior probability of EFS, but surgical margins were not associated with clinical outcome. In a single-institution retrospective analysis of 111 patients with synovial sarcoma who were younger than 22 years at diagnosis, larger tumor size, greater depth in tissue, greater local invasiveness, and more proximal tumor location were associated with poorer OS.[Level of evidence: 3iiA] A multicenter analysis of 219 children from various treating centers including Germany, SJCRH, Instituto Tumori, and MD Anderson Cancer Center reported an estimated 5-year OS of 80% and EFS rate of 72%. In this analysis, an interaction between tumor size and invasiveness was observed; in multivariate analysis, patients with large or invasive tumors or with Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Clinical Group III and IV disease had decreased OS. Treatment with radiation therapy was related to improved OS (hazard ratio, 0.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.2–0.7). In Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group III patients, objective response to chemotherapy (18 of 30 [60%]) correlated with improved survival. In adults, factors such as International Union Against Cancer/American Joint Committee on Cancer stage III and stage IVA, tumor necrosis, truncal location, elevated mitotic rate, age, and histologic grade have been associated with a worse prognosis. Expression and genomic index prognostic signatures have been studied in synovial sarcoma. More complex genomic profiles, with greater rearrangement of the genome, are more common in adults than in younger patients with synovial sarcoma and are associated with a higher risk for metastasis.
Synovial sarcoma appears to be more sensitive to chemotherapy than many other STSs, and children with synovial sarcoma seem to have a better prognosis when compared with adults. The most commonly used regimens for the treatment of synovial sarcoma incorporate ifosfamide and doxorubicin. Response rates to the ifosfamide and doxorubicin regimen are higher than in other nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs. A meta-analysis also suggested that response to chemotherapy was correlated with improved survival.
Several treatment centers advocate adjuvant chemotherapy after resection and radiation therapy of synovial sarcoma in children and young adults. The International Society of Pediatric Oncology-Malignant Mesenchymal Tumors studies showed that select patients (young age, < 5 cm resected tumors) with nonmetastatic synovial sarcoma can have excellent outcome in the absence of radiation, but it is still unclear whether that approach obviates an advantage of radiation for local or regional control. A German trial suggested a benefit for adjuvant chemotherapy in children with synovial sarcoma. A meta-analysis also suggested that chemotherapy may provide benefit. However, unequivocal proof of the value of adjuvant chemotherapy from prospective, randomized clinical trials is lacking and the results of COG-ARST0332 are pending. Survival after relapse is poor (30% at 5 years). Factors associated with outcome after relapse include duration of first remission (> or ≤ 18 months) and lack of a second remission.
Patients with undifferentiated STS had been eligible for participation in rhabdomyosarcoma trials coordinated by the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) from 1972 to 2006. The rationale was the observation that patients with undifferentiated STS had similar sites of disease and outcome as those with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Therapeutic trials for adults with STS include patients with undifferentiated STS and other histologies, which are treated similarly, using ifosfamide and doxorubicin, and sometimes with other chemotherapy agents, surgery, and radiation therapy. Currently in the COG, they are treated on clinical trials for patients with nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs.
Vascular tumors vary from hemangiomas, which are always considered benign, to
angiosarcomas, which are highly malignant. Vascular tumors include the following tumor subtypes:
Hemangioendotheliomas are tumors found in infants that arise within the liver or
elsewhere and usually remain benign. Liver hemangioendotheliomas may regress then enlarge. These tumors may also become malignant. The tumors are sometimes associated with
consumptive coagulopathy, also known as the Kasabach-Merritt syndrome (or
phenomenon). Chemotherapy and interferon have had some benefit in isolated cases of hemangioendothelioma associated with Kasabach-Merritt syndrome. A report from Spain indicated good control of severe thrombocytopenia of less than 30,000/mm3 in 11 patients with hemangioendothelioma or tufted angioma treated with weekly vincristine, and daily low-dose aspirin and ticlodipine.[Level of evidence: 3iiiA]
In older children and adults, hemangioendotheliomas may
occur elsewhere in the body and can metastasize to lungs, lymph nodes, bones,
and within the pleural or peritoneal cavities. The preferred pathologic
designation for these lesions in older persons is epithelioid
hemangioendothelioma, which connotes the possibility of distant spread.
These latter lesions are considered to be of intermediate malignant potential,
between benign hemangioma and angiosarcoma. Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma of the liver
is usually managed surgically. Some patients may need orthotopic liver
transplantation because this disease does not respond to radiation therapy or
chemotherapy. In more extensive hemangioendothelioma, inhibition of the mTOR pathway may be helpful. However, this should be investigated as part of a clinical trial before use in the clinical setting.
Treatment of asymptomatic liver hemangioendothelioma in a child younger than 1 year may
include close observation, because some tumors will regress. Symptomatic
lesions require urgent medical or surgical management, especially if
coagulopathy is present.
Angiosarcomas may arise in a setting of benign vascular anomalies or vascular malformations. Angiosarcomas have also been described in previously benign hemangiomas and hemangioendotheliomas. Of five girls, three infants younger than 4 months with cutaneous hemangiomas and two girls with multinodular liver hemangiomas developed angiosarcomas. All three girls initially diagnosed with cutaneous hemangiomas died. Liver size initially decreased; however, at age 2.5 to 5 years, their livers enlarged, and all three girls died of angiosarcoma. The other two girls presented with vascular liver tumors at age 2 and 3.5 years, without previous histories. The younger girl had a benign unifocal hemangioendothelioma on biopsy; 3 months later, another biopsy showed both benign and malignant histology, and she died. The older girl had multinodular angiosarcomas without metastases, underwent liver transplantation, and was recurrence free 2 years later. The authors recommend liver ultrasound surveillance every 6 months for infants with multinodular liver hemangiomas.
Complete surgical excision
appears to be crucial for angiosarcomas and lymphangiosarcomas despite evidence
of tumor shrinkage in some patients in response to local or systemic therapy. A review of 222 patients (median age, 62 years; range, age 15–90 years) showed an overall disease-specific survival (DSS) rate of 38% at 5 years. Five-year DSS was 44% in 138 patients with localized, resected tumors but only 16% in 43 patients with metastases at diagnosis. Data on liver transplantation for localized angiosarcoma are limited.[Level of evidence: 3iiA]
Chemotherapy may be effective for the treatment of angiosarcoma. A review of 20 years of experience in the Italian and German Soft Tissue Sarcoma Cooperative Group identified 12 children with angiosarcoma. One objective response to chemotherapy was observed, and the overall behavior of this tumor was identical to angiosarcoma in adults. A subsequent retrospective study of 14 children with angiosarcoma performed by the Polish and German Cooperative Paediatric Soft Tissue Sarcoma Study Groups identified four chemotherapy responses in ten children. Another review of 15 patients demonstrated a 33% survival rate.
Anti-angiogenesis therapy may prove useful in the treatment of this group of neoplasms.
Hemangiopericytoma is a highly vascularized tumor of uncertain origin. Hemangiopericytoma in children younger than 1 year seems to have a better prognosis than in children older than 1 year. Histologically, hemangiopericytomas are composed of packed round or fusiform cells that are arranged around a complex vasculature, forming many branch-like structures. Hyalinization is often present. Infantile hemangiopericytomas have similar histology but many are multilobular with vasculature outside the tumor mass.
In a series of 17 children, the differences in metastatic potential and response to treatment were clearly demonstrated for adult and infantile hemangiopericytomas. Eleven children were older than 1 year. Several of these patients had disease in the lymph nodes or lungs. Six patients with stage II and III disease progressed and died. Three patients with stage I disease survived, although one had recurrence in the lungs. Six patients had infantile hemangiopericytoma, most were greater than stage I (5 of 6). All six survived and three had good responses to vincristine, actinomycin, and cyclophosphamide.
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with nonmetastatic childhood soft tissue sarcoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
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Pappo AS, Devidas M, Jenkins J, et al.: Phase II trial of neoadjuvant vincristine, ifosfamide, and doxorubicin with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor support in children and adolescents with advanced-stage nonrhabdomyosarcomatous soft tissue sarcomas: a Pediatric Oncology Group Study. J Clin Oncol 23 (18): 4031-8, 2005.
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Standard treatment options for metastatic childhood soft tissue sarcoma (STS) include the following:
The prognosis for children with metastatic STSs is poor,
and these children should receive combined treatment with chemotherapy,
radiation therapy, and surgical resection of pulmonary metastases. In a
prospective randomized trial, chemotherapy with vincristine, dactinomycin,
doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide, with or without dacarbazine, led to tumor
responses in one-third of patients with unresectable or metastatic disease.
The estimated 4-year survival rate, however, was poor, with fewer than one-third
of children surviving.
Children with isolated pulmonary metastases should undergo a surgical procedure in an attempt to resect all gross disease. For patients with multiple or recurrent pulmonary metastases, additional surgical procedures can be performed if the morbidity is deemed acceptable. In a retrospective review, patients with synovial sarcoma and pulmonary metastases for whom it was possible to completely resect all metastatic lung lesions had better survival than did patients for whom it was not possible to achieve complete resections.[Level of evidence: 3iiiA] An alternative approach is focused radiation therapy (fractionated stereotactic radiation therapy), which has been successfully used in adults to sterilize lesions. The estimated 5-year
survival rate after thoracotomy for pulmonary metastasectomy has ranged from
10% to 58% in adult studies. Emerging data suggest a similar outcome after the administration of focused radiation therapy in adults. Formal segmentectomy, lobectomy, and mediastinal
lymph node dissection are unnecessary.
The following agents are being studied for the treatment of certain metastatic STSs:
Soft Tissue Sarcoma Subtype
Solitary fibrous tumor
Perivascular epithelioid cell tumor (PEComa)
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with metastatic childhood soft tissue sarcoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
Demetri GD, Elias AD: Results of single-agent and combination chemotherapy for advanced soft tissue sarcomas. Implications for decision making in the clinic. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 9 (4): 765-85, 1995.
Elias A, Ryan L, Sulkes A, et al.: Response to mesna, doxorubicin, ifosfamide, and dacarbazine in 108 patients with metastatic or unresectable sarcoma and no prior chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 7 (9): 1208-16, 1989.
Edmonson JH, Ryan LM, Blum RH, et al.: Randomized comparison of doxorubicin alone versus ifosfamide plus doxorubicin or mitomycin, doxorubicin, and cisplatin against advanced soft tissue sarcomas. J Clin Oncol 11 (7): 1269-75, 1993.
Stanelle EJ, Christison-Lagay ER, Wolden SL, et al.: Pulmonary metastasectomy in pediatric/adolescent patients with synovial sarcoma: an institutional review. J Pediatr Surg 48 (4): 757-63, 2013.
Dhakal S, Corbin KS, Milano MT, et al.: Stereotactic body radiotherapy for pulmonary metastases from soft-tissue sarcomas: excellent local lesion control and improved patient survival. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 82 (2): 940-5, 2012.
Putnam JB Jr, Roth JA: Surgical treatment for pulmonary metastases from sarcoma. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 9 (4): 869-87, 1995.
Stacchiotti S, Negri T, Zaffaroni N, et al.: Sunitinib in advanced alveolar soft part sarcoma: evidence of a direct antitumor effect. Ann Oncol 22 (7): 1682-90, 2011.
Stacchiotti S, Tamborini E, Marrari A, et al.: Response to sunitinib malate in advanced alveolar soft part sarcoma. Clin Cancer Res 15 (3): 1096-104, 2009.
Stacchiotti S, Negri T, Libertini M, et al.: Sunitinib malate in solitary fibrous tumor (SFT). Ann Oncol 23 (12): 3171-9, 2012.
Wagner AJ, Malinowska-Kolodziej I, Morgan JA, et al.: Clinical activity of mTOR inhibition with sirolimus in malignant perivascular epithelioid cell tumors: targeting the pathogenic activation of mTORC1 in tumors. J Clin Oncol 28 (5): 835-40, 2010.
Butrynski JE, D'Adamo DR, Hornick JL, et al.: Crizotinib in ALK-rearranged inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor. N Engl J Med 363 (18): 1727-33, 2010.
Stacchiotti S, Longhi A, Ferraresi V, et al.: Phase II study of imatinib in advanced chordoma. J Clin Oncol 30 (9): 914-20, 2012.
With the possible exception of infants with infantile fibrosarcoma, the
prognosis for patients with recurrent or progressive disease is poor. No
prospective trial has been able to prove that enhanced local control of
pediatric soft tissue sarcomas (STSs) will ultimately improve survival. Therefore,
treatment should be individualized for the site of recurrence and
biologic characteristics (e.g., grade, invasiveness, and size) of the tumor.
Decisions about treatment options for progressive or recurrent childhood STS are based on many factors, including the following:
Treatment options for recurrent or progressive disease include the following:
Resection is the standard treatment for recurrent pediatric
nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs. If the patient has not yet
received radiation therapy, adjuvant radiation should be considered after local
excision of the recurrent tumor. Limb-sparing procedures with adjuvant
brachytherapy have been evaluated in adults but have not been studied extensively
in children. For some children with extremity sarcomas who have received
previous radiation therapy, amputation may be the only therapeutic option.
Pulmonary metastasectomy may achieve prolonged disease control for some patients. A large, retrospective analysis of patients with recurrent STS showed that isolated local relapse had a better prognosis and that resection of pulmonary metastases improved the probability of survival. In 31 children and adolescents younger than 23 years with pulmonary metastases from synovial sarcoma, complete resection of lung metastases appeared to prolong survival when compared with ten other patients who were not considered candidates for metastasectomy.[Level of evidence: 3iiiA] All patients with recurrent tumors should be considered for current clinical trials.
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent childhood soft tissue sarcoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
Maki RG, Wathen JK, Patel SR, et al.: Randomized phase II study of gemcitabine and docetaxel compared with gemcitabine alone in patients with metastatic soft tissue sarcomas: results of sarcoma alliance for research through collaboration study 002 [corrected]. J Clin Oncol 25 (19): 2755-63, 2007.
Le Cesne A, Cresta S, Maki RG, et al.: A retrospective analysis of antitumour activity with trabectedin in translocation-related sarcomas. Eur J Cancer 48 (16): 3036-44, 2012.
Garcia-Carbonero R, Supko JG, Maki RG, et al.: Ecteinascidin-743 (ET-743) for chemotherapy-naive patients with advanced soft tissue sarcomas: multicenter phase II and pharmacokinetic study. J Clin Oncol 23 (24): 5484-92, 2005.
Garcia-Carbonero R, Supko JG, Manola J, et al.: Phase II and pharmacokinetic study of ecteinascidin 743 in patients with progressive sarcomas of soft tissues refractory to chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 22 (8): 1480-90, 2004.
Glade Bender JL, Lee A, Reid JM, et al.: Phase I pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic study of pazopanib in children with soft tissue sarcoma and other refractory solid tumors: a children's oncology group phase I consortium report. J Clin Oncol 31 (24): 3034-43, 2013.
van der Graaf WT, Blay JY, Chawla SP, et al.: Pazopanib for metastatic soft-tissue sarcoma (PALETTE): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial. Lancet 379 (9829): 1879-86, 2012.
Belal A, Salah E, Hajjar W, et al.: Pulmonary metastatectomy for soft tissue sarcomas: is it valuable? J Cardiovasc Surg (Torino) 42 (6): 835-40, 2001.
Zagars GK, Ballo MT, Pisters PW, et al.: Prognostic factors for disease-specific survival after first relapse of soft-tissue sarcoma: analysis of 402 patients with disease relapse after initial conservative surgery and radiotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 57 (3): 739-47, 2003.
This information is provided by the National Cancer Institute.
This information was last updated on September 8, 2014.
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Dana-Farber provides interpreting services for patients whose first language is not English. Interpreters may be requested for any activity, including registration, booking appointments, attending treatments and exams, support groups, and meetings with doctors and other members of your health care team.
Just for Teens provides programs and activities for teens and young adults with cancer at the Jimmy Fund Clinic and Children's Hospital Boston. We offer activities and events both inside and out of the hospital so that you have creative ways to pass the time and can meet other teens who are going through similar experiences.
Our nutritionists are registered dietitians who can assist you in planning an optimal diet during any stage of your cancer journey, cope with any side effects you may experience, and answer your questions about the latest findings on cancer and nutrition.
The Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Patient and Family Resource Center and its satellite resource rooms are staffed by health care professionals and provide computer stations, books, brochures, videos, and CDs to help you find information and support on a variety of issues about cancer treatment and care.
Patients websites help friends and family members stay up-to-date on their loved ones' condition and write messages of support and encouragement.
The Dana-Farber pharmacy fills prescriptions for all pediatric and adult patients. Our pharmacists are an extension of the patient care team and work closely with your physicians to provide seamless, convenient, safe care.
More than 1,200 Dana-Farber patients and their families have enjoyed free trips to baseball games, theater shows, museums, and other attractions this year through the Recreational Resources program.
Through all stages of cancer treatment and survivorship, our Spiritual Care staff is available 24 hours a day to provide emotional and spiritual support for adults and pediatric patients and family members.
Integrative therapies, also known as complementary therapies, range from acupuncture and massage to nutritional guidance and music therapy. Patients treated at the Zakim Center credit its services with easing nausea, improving circulation, and reducing pain, stress, and anxiety associated with cancer treatment.
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