Quality of Life
How radical and disfiguring is the surgery? It depends on the location, said Dr. Sturgis. If the tumor is in the scalp or the neck, quality of life and cosmesis may be reasonable. If it occurs in the paranasal sinus, the mandible, or elsewhere in the upper aerodigestive tract, depending on size, disfigurement and functional impairment can be more serious, although the damage can be somewhat repaired by reconstructive surgery.
Explore This IssueMay 2009
I agree, said Shreyaskumar Patel, MD, Professor of Sarcoma Medical Oncology at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. It depends on the exact location and extent of the tumor, which in turn determines the extent of surgery.
Quality-of-life issues for MFH are essentially the same as those for any head and neck cancer. There may be facial disfigurement, swallowing and/or speech deficits, xerostomia, and decreased ability to taste. If the tumor is in the neck, there may be some shoulder dysfunction, said Dr. Sturgis.
Dr. Patel added that there may be chronic pain.
Dr. Clark said that functional outcomes are of great concern. Returning to a normal life is the goal, so we try hard to preserve swallowing and speech, and we pay attention to cosmesis. But, having said this, we can’t lose sight of the goal of disease-free survival.
Virtually all soft tissue sarcomas are aggressive, added Dr. Sturgis, who stressed that patients should be treated in a major cancer center where an experienced sarcoma team is available for examination and treatment. These patients have no business being treated in the community.
©2009 The Triological Society