Management of adult soft tissue sarcomas of the head and neck

Oral Oncol. 2010 Nov;46(11):786-90. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2010.09.001. Epub 2010 Oct 13.


Adult soft tissue sarcoma of the head and neck are rare and represent a heterogeneous group of tumours of different histological variants. Management of these neoplasms presents a great challenge. Malignant fibrous histiocytoma, fibrosarcoma, angiosarcoma and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour are the most frequently found sarcoma types in the head and neck. Although traditional morphological assessment is the foundation of clinical decision making, the role of immunohistochemistry and molecular biology are useful for diagnosis, prognosis and identification of possible targets for molecular therapy. The most frequently involved tumour sites are scalp/face, sinonasal tract/anterior skull base and parotid/neck. The management of soft tissue sarcomas in the head and neck is primarily surgical. Since it is difficult to obtain wide margins during surgical treatment in head and neck sarcomas, because of anatomic constraints, most patients undergo post-operative irradiation. Survival varies from 50 to 80%. Prognostic factors are tumour grade, margin status and tumour size. With further insight into the biology of soft tissue sarcoma, modern imaging techniques and new treatment options, we will most certainly be able to improve clinical outcome in patients with soft tissue sarcoma in the upcoming years.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Sarcoma / mortality
  • Sarcoma / pathology
  • Sarcoma / surgery*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / mortality
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / pathology
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome