Alveolar soft part sarcoma: progress toward improvement in survival? A population-based study

BMC Cancer. 2022 Aug 15;22(1):891. doi: 10.1186/s12885-022-09968-5.


Background: Alveolar soft part sarcoma (ASPS) is a rare histological subtype of soft-tissue sarcoma, which remains refractory to conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy. We aimed to characterize ASPS and investigate whether the oncological outcome has improved over the past decade.

Methods: One hundred and twenty patients with newly diagnosed ASPS from 2006 to 2017, identified from the Bone and Soft-Tissue Tumor Registry in Japan, were analyzed retrospectively.

Results: The study cohort comprised 34 (28%) patients with localized ASPS and 86 (72%) with metastatic disease at presentation. The 5-year disease-specific survival (DSS) was 68% for all patients and 86% and 62% for localized and metastatic disease, respectively (p = 0.019). Metastasis at presentation was the only adverse prognostic factor for DSS (hazard ratio [HR]: 7.65; p = 0.048). Patients who were > 25 years (80%; p = 0.023), had deep-seated tumors (75%; p = 0.002), and tumors > 5 cm (5-10 cm, 81%; > 10 cm, 81%; p < 0.001) were more likely to have metastases at presentation. In patients with localized ASPS, adjuvant chemotherapy or radiotherapy did not affect survival, and 13 patients (45%) developed distant metastases in the lung (n = 12, 92%) and brain (n = 2, 15%). In patients with metastatic ASPS (lung, n = 85 [99%]; bone, n = 12 [14%]; and brain n = 9 [11%]), surgery for the primary or metastatic site did not affect survival. Prolonged survival was seen in patients who received pazopanib treatment (p = 0.045), but not in those who received doxorubicin-based cytotoxic chemotherapy. Overall, improved DSS for metastatic ASPS has been observed since 2012 (5-year DSS, from 58 to 65%) when pazopanib was approved for advanced diseases, although without a statistically significant difference (p = 0.117).

Conclusion: The national study confirmed a unique feature of ASPS with frequent metastasis to the lung and brain but an indolent clinical course. An overall trend toward prolonged survival after the introduction of targeted therapy encourages continuous efforts to develop novel therapeutic options for this therapeutically resistant soft-tissue sarcoma.

Keywords: Alveolar soft part sarcoma; Chemotherapy; Pazopanib; Surgery; Survival.

MeSH terms

  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoma, Alveolar Soft Part* / diagnosis
  • Sarcoma, Alveolar Soft Part* / pathology
  • Sarcoma, Alveolar Soft Part* / therapy
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Survival Rate


  • Doxorubicin