Background: The purpose of this study was to clarify the prognostic significance of peritumoral lymphocyte infiltration in the capsule of soft tissue sarcomas (STS). Multiple observations in preclinical and clinical studies have shown that the immune system has a role in controlling tumor growth and progression. Prognostic markers in potentially curable STS should guide therapy after surgical resection. The immune status at the time of resection may be important, but the prognostic significance of peritumoral lymphocytes is unknown.
Methods: Tissue microarrays from 80 patients with STS were constructed from duplicate cores of tissue from the tumor and the peritumoral capsule. Immunohistochemistry was used to evaluate the CD3+, CD4+, CD8+ and CD20+ lymphocytes in the tumor and the peritumoral capsule.
Results: In univariate analyses, increasing numbers of CD20+ (P = 0.032) peritumoral lymphocytes were associated with a reduced disease free survival (DSS). In multivariate analyses, a high number of CD20+ peritumoral lymphocytes (P = 0.030) in the capsule was an independent negative prognostic factor for DSS. There were no such associations of lymphocyte infiltration in the tumor.
Conclusions: A high density of CD20+ peritumoral lymphocytes is an independent negative prognostic indicator for patients with STS. Further research is needed to determine whether CD20 cells in the peritumoral capsule of STS may promote tumor invasion in the surrounding tissue and increase the metastatic potential.