Objective: To define the prognostic significance of surgical center case volume on outcome for soft tissue sarcoma (STS).
Methods: STS cases registered in the Florida Cancer Data System (FCDS) between 1981 and 2001 were analyzed. Medical facilities were ranked by STS operative volume. Facilities above the 67th percentile for volume were defined as high-volume centers (HVCs).
Results: Of the 4205 operative cases of STS identified, 68.1% were treated at low-volume centers (LVCs) and 31.9% at HVCs. A larger proportion of high-grade tumors (53.8% vs. 44.3%) and lesions over 10 cm (40.7% vs. 28.7%) were resected at HVC (P < 0.001). The 30-day mortality was 0.7% for HVC and 1.5% for LVC (P = 0.028), and mortality rates at 90 days were 1.6% and 3.6%, respectively (P = 0.001). Median survival was 40 months at HVC and 37 months at LVC (P = 0.002). Univariate analysis demonstrated significantly improved survival at HVC for high-grade tumors (median 30 months vs. 24 months, P = 0.001), lesions over 10 cm (28 months vs. 19 months, P = 0.001) and truncal or retroperitoneal sarcomas (39 months vs. 31 months, P = 0.011). Limb amputation rate was lower (9.4% vs. 13.8%, P = 0.048) and radiation and chemotherapy were more frequently administered at HVC (OR = 1.54). On multivariate analysis, treatment at a HVC was a significant independent predictor of improved survival (OR = 1.292, P = 0.047).
Conclusions: STS patients treated at HVC have significantly better survival and functional outcomes. Patients with either large (>10 cm), high-grade or truncal/retroperitoneal tumors should be treated exclusively at a high-volume center.