Article Abstract

Soft tissue sarcoma in Asia

Authors: Eileen Poon, Richard Quek


Sarcoma is an uncommon and heterogeneous group of malignancies linked by their mesenchymal origin. They are rare and account for 1% of adult cancers, and 10–20% of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancers. While there is good published literature on the incidence and distribution of sarcoma subtypes in the western populations, there is a paucity of data from Asia, particularly on the epidemiology, treatment and outcomes of STS in Asia. Formalized prospective national registries in soft tissue sarcoma (STS) are lacking and little is known about how sarcomas are treated and managed throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Due to geographical and varying affluence levels across over 50 countries, no single uniform guideline exists across Asia to inform of chemotherapeutic options. Any existent guidelines tend to be country-specific, reflecting resource availability and geographical limitation. To understand and improve STS care in Asia, one must appreciate the macroeconomics and healthcare structures in place and to work within the limitations imposed by them. Concurrently, there exists an urgency to develop strong sarcoma centres of excellence (SCE) across Asia to deliver state-of-art care to our patients. Equally important is the need to facilitate sarcoma education to patients and healthcare workers. Development of such centres is vital in improving clinical care as they provide high-quality sub-specialized care to patients within that geographical location, serve as reference centres for knowledge and education as well as nerve centres for care-coordination in a hub-and-spoke model. Key to these centres of excellence is the sarcoma multi-disciplinary team (MDT). Studies have consistently shown that patients managed in high-volume sarcoma centres, by an expert sarcoma MDT, achieve better clinical outcomes. This report serves to highlight the challenges and opportunities of sarcoma care in Asia, map out a vision for the development of SCE across Asia and highlight the areas of potential collaboration between centres to advance the science of sarcoma.