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Stage Information


Grade 2 lesions

In grade 2 lesions, which are soft tissue sarcomas not included in grade 1 and grade 3 lesions, less than 15% of the surface area shows necrosis, and there are fewer than five mitotic figures per ten high-power fields (40X objective). As secondary criteria of grade 2 tumors, the incidence of nuclear atypia is not marked, and the tumor is not markedly cellular.

Grade 3 lesions

  • Alveolar soft part sarcoma.
  • Clear cell sarcoma (MMSP).
  • Desmoplastic small round cell tumor.
  • Epithelioid sarcoma.
  • Extraosseous osteosarcoma.
  • Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma.[9]
  • Pleomorphic or round cell liposarcoma.
  • Synovial sarcoma.
  • Triton tumor (MPNST with rhabdomyosarcomatous elements).
  • Undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma.

Any other sarcoma not included in grade 1 in which more than 15% of the surface area is necrotic or in which there are more than five mitotic figures per ten high-power fields (40X objective) is considered a grade 3 lesion. Marked atypia and cellularity are less predictive but may assist in placing tumors in this category.

Although a standardized staging system for pediatric NRSTS does not exist, the current COG trial is using the sixth edition AJCC staging system for soft tissue sarcomas (with central pathology review).[10]

Prognostic Significance of Tumor Staging

These two staging systems have proven to be of prognostic significance in pediatric and adult NRSTSs.[11,12,13,14,15] In a review of a large adult series of NRSTSs, superficial extremity sarcomas have a better prognosis than deep tumors. Thus, in addition to grade and size, the depth of invasion of the tumor should be considered.[16]

Several adult and pediatric series have shown that patients with large or invasive tumors have a significantly worse prognosis than do those with small, noninvasive tumors. A retrospective review of soft tissue sarcomas in children and adolescents suggests that the 5 cm cutoff used for adults with soft tissue sarcoma may not be ideal for smaller children, especially infants. The review identified an interaction between tumor diameter and body surface area.[17] This relationship requires further study to determine the therapeutic implications of the observation.


  1. Weiss SW, Goldblum JR: Enzinger and Weiss's Soft Tissue Tumors. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2001.
  2. Maurer HM, Beltangady M, Gehan EA, et al.: The Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study-I. A final report. Cancer 61 (2): 209-20, 1988.
  3. Harmer MH, ed.: TNM Classification of Pediatric Tumors. Geneva: UICC, 1982.
  4. Soft tissue sarcoma. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 291-6.
  5. Parham DM, Webber BL, Jenkins JJ 3rd, et al.: Nonrhabdomyosarcomatous soft tissue sarcomas of childhood: formulation of a simplified system for grading. Mod Pathol 8 (7): 705-10, 1995.
  6. Recommendations for the reporting of soft tissue sarcomas. Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology. Mod Pathol 11 (12): 1257-61, 1998.
  7. Skytting B, Meis-Kindblom JM, Larsson O, et al.: Synovial sarcoma--identification of favorable and unfavorable histologic types: a Scandinavian sarcoma group study of 104 cases. Acta Orthop Scand 70 (6): 543-54, 1999.
  8. Coindre JM, Terrier P, Guillou L, et al.: Predictive value of grade for metastasis development in the main histologic types of adult soft tissue sarcomas: a study of 1240 patients from the French Federation of Cancer Centers Sarcoma Group. Cancer 91 (10): 1914-26, 2001.
  9. Dantonello TM, Int-Veen C, Leuschner I, et al.: Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma of soft tissues and bone in children, adolescents, and young adults: experiences of the CWS and COSS study groups. Cancer 112 (11): 2424-31, 2008.
  10. American Joint Committee on Cancer.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 6th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2002.
  11. Rao BN: Nonrhabdomyosarcoma in children: prognostic factors influencing survival. Semin Surg Oncol 9 (6): 524-31, 1993 Nov-Dec.
  12. Pisters PW, Leung DH, Woodruff J, et al.: Analysis of prognostic factors in 1,041 patients with localized soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities. J Clin Oncol 14 (5): 1679-89, 1996.
  13. Coindre JM, Terrier P, Bui NB, et al.: Prognostic factors in adult patients with locally controlled soft tissue sarcoma. A study of 546 patients from the French Federation of Cancer Centers Sarcoma Group. J Clin Oncol 14 (3): 869-77, 1996.
  14. Pappo AS, Fontanesi J, Luo X, et al.: Synovial sarcoma in children and adolescents: the St Jude Children's Research Hospital experience. J Clin Oncol 12 (11): 2360-6, 1994.
  15. Pratt CB, Maurer HM, Gieser P, et al.: Treatment of unresectable or metastatic pediatric soft tissue sarcomas with surgery, irradiation, and chemotherapy: a Pediatric Oncology Group study. Med Pediatr Oncol 30 (4): 201-9, 1998.
  16. Brooks AD, Heslin MJ, Leung DH, et al.: Superficial extremity soft tissue sarcoma: an analysis of prognostic factors. Ann Surg Oncol 5 (1): 41-7, 1998 Jan-Feb.
  17. Ferrari A, Miceli R, Meazza C, et al.: Soft tissue sarcomas of childhood and adolescence: the prognostic role of tumor size in relation to patient body size. J Clin Oncol 27 (3): 371-6, 2009.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 16, 2012
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