Prognostic factors for cutaneous and subcutaneous soft tissue sarcomas in dogs.

Publication date 25th January 2011
Authors M. M. Dennis, K. D. McSporran, Nicholas J. Bacon, F. Y. Schulman, R. A. Foster, B. E. Powers


Soft tissue sarcomas (STSs) develop from mesenchymal cells of soft tissues, and they commonly occur in the skin and subcutis of the dog. Although phenotypically diverse with frequently controversial histogenesis, STSs are considered as a group because they have similar features microscopically and clinically. Following resection, local recurrence rates are low in general but vary according to histologic grade and completeness of surgical margins. Complete margins predict nonrecurrence. Even most grade I STSs with “close” margins will not recur, but propensity for recurrence increases with grade. The frequency of metastasis has not been accurately estimated, but it is believed to be rare for grade I STSs and most likely to occur with grade III STSs. However, metastasis does not necessarily equate with poor survival. High mitotic index is prognostic for reduced survival time. Further research is needed to determine more precise estimates for recurrence rates and survival as related to completeness of surgical margins and to delineate potential differences in metastatic rate and median survival time between grades. Other potential indicators of prognosis that presently require further investigation include histologic type, tumor dimension, location, invasiveness, stage, markers of cellular proliferation, and cytogenetic profiles. Common issues limiting prognostic factor evaluation include biases from retrospective studies, small sample sizes, poor verification of metastasis, inconsistent STS classification and use of nomenclature, difficulties in differentiating STS phenotype, and diversity of the study population (stage of disease and treatment status).