Head and neck sarcoma: three-year data from a tertiary referral centre

Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2021 Nov;103(10):762-767. doi: 10.1308/rcsann.2021.0119. Epub 2021 Aug 27.


Introduction: Sarcomas of the head and neck are neoplasms arising from the embryonic mesenchyme. They are rare and heterogeneous in nature and are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. This study evaluates patients referred to the Oxford Sarcoma Service, a tertiary referral centre.

Methods: Patients discussed over a three-year period were included. Medical records were analysed using the electronic patient record database. Data were acquired on a range of domains, including: demographics, histopathology, treatment modality, recurrence, mortality, survival, etc.

Results: Thirty-two eligible patients, 21 male and 11 female, were identified with a mean age of 58 years; 26 out of 32 patients had high-grade sarcomas. The commonest histological subtype was chondrosarcoma (8/32). Twenty-two underwent planned multidisciplinary team surgical resection after biopsy and staging: negative margins were noted in 9, with close and involved margins in 5 and 8, respectively. Local recurrence was noted in 13 and 6 had metastatic disease out of the 32 eligible patients. Mortality was noted in 10 out of 32 patients. Mean survival was 69.5 months. Five-year overall survival was 64%. Surgery demonstrated statistically significant improvement in survival (p=0.0095). There were no significant differences in survival, recurrence or marginal status between methods of adjuvant or neoadjuvant therapy.

Conclusion: Outcomes of head and neck sarcomas are inferior compared with other types of sarcoma. The nature of the complex surrounding anatomy presents unique challenges in surgical management. This in turn affects rates of local recurrence and prognosis. Therefore, it is critical that they are managed in tertiary, specialist centres with a multidisciplinary approach.

Keywords: Head and neck; Sarcoma; Surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Margins of Excision
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoma / epidemiology
  • Sarcoma / mortality
  • Sarcoma / pathology*
  • Sarcoma / surgery
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tertiary Care Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult