Extremity soft tissue sarcoma care in the elderly: Insights into the generalizability of NCI cancer trials

Waddah B. Al-Refaie, Elizabeth B. Habermann, Vikas Dudeja, Selwyn M. Vickers, Todd M. Tuttle, Eric H. Jensen, Beth A. Virnig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Background. The projected increase in older persons in the United States, their underrepresentation in clinical trials, and the rarity of extremity soft tissue sarcomas (ESTS) limit our understanding of ESTS care in the elderly. We explored the extent of older age (≥65 years) on patterns of ESTS care in NCI-sponsored population-based dataset. Materials and Methods. Using the 1991-2006 Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results registries, we identified 2586 Medicare aged persons ≥65 years with ESTS. We compared demographics, tumors, and treatments by age category. Multivariable analyses were used to examine the effect of older age on ESTS care and survival, adjusting for covariates. Results. More than 30% of adult ESTS were diagnosed in patients older than 65 years. A significant trend was observed between increasing age and decreased use of sarcoma-directed surgery and delivery of radiotherapy after limb-sparing surgery for high-grade or T2 tumors. Limb amputation rates did not vary by age. However, both African-American (odds ratio [OR] 1.85, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.05-3.27, P =.0341) and Hispanic races (OR 2.17, 95% CI 1.27-3.70, P =.0044) predicted higher rates of limb amputation than whites. Although our multivariable analyses showed that decreased use of sarcoma-directed surgery was only limited to age 85 + years, it also showed that older age predicted poorer cancer-specific mortality following sarcoma-directed surgery (P<.0001). Conclusions. In this US population-based study, the decreased use of sarcoma-directed surgery in the elderly was only limited to those older than 85 years. The association between older age and increased cancer-related mortality deserves future investigation to carefully examine potential effects of undertreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1732-1738
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENT Supported by The 2008 Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Cancer Research Center Endowment Fund.


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