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Prognosis and survival for soft tissue sarcoma
People with soft tissue sarcoma may have questions about their prognosis and survival. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, type of cancer, stage, characteristics of the cancer, treatments chosen and response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.
A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect you and how it will respond to treatment. A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together. They both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.
The following are prognostic factors for soft tissue sarcoma.
Size of the tumour
Tumours less than 5 cm at the greatest dimension have a better prognosis than those larger than 5 cm.
Grade of the tumour
The grade of a soft tissue sarcoma provides valuable information about how quickly the cancer is likely to grow and spread. The grade is also helpful in determining a prognosis. Low-grade sarcomas are less likely to spread (metastasize) or recur. They are linked with a better prognosis.
Depth of the tumour
Tumours close to the surface of the body are called superficial tumours. They have a better prognosis than deep tumours.
Type of tumour
Some types of soft tissue sarcoma are linked with a better prognosis than others. For example, liposarcomas have a more favourable prognosis than some other types of soft tissue sarcomas, such as malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour (MPNSTs) or leiomyosarcomas.
Stage of the cancer
The earlier the stage of soft tissue sarcoma at diagnosis, the better the prognosis.
Location of the tumour
Depending on the stage, soft tissue sarcomas of the arms or legs tend to have a better prognosis than sarcomas elsewhere in the body.
The margin is the healthy area of tissue around the tumour that is removed with the tumour during surgery. If there are no cancer cells in the margin, it is described as a negative surgical margin. If there are cancer cells in the margin, it is described as a positive surgical margin. Negative surgical margins mean that the tumour is less likely to come back, or recur. This is linked with a better prognosis than a positive surgical margin.
People with soft tissue sarcoma who are under the age of 60 tend to have a better prognosis than those over the age of 60.
Establishing a national caregivers strategy
The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.