Surgical treatment of adult primary hepatic sarcoma

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Primary sarcomas of the liver are extremely rare in adults. Optimal therapeutic approaches remain unclear.


Twenty consecutive adult patients who had surgical treatment for primary hepatic sarcomas were reviewed. Patient age ranged from 23 to 80 years. Other than one patient with primary hepatic angiosarcoma who had a history of thorium dioxide colloid (Thorotrast) exposure 23 years before diagnosis, no predisposing causes were apparent. Nineteen patients had hepatic resection and one patient had an orthotopic liver transplant. No patient received neoadjuvant chemotherapy or radiotherapy but radiotherapy was delivered intraoperatively in one patient.


Leiomyosarcoma was the most common histological type of sarcoma diagnosed (five of 20 patients), followed by malignant solitary fibrous tumour (four) and epithelioid haemangioendothelioma (three). Fourteen tumours were high-grade sarcomas and six were low grade malignancies. Thirteen patients developed a recurrence. Distant metastases (ten patients) and intrahepatic recurrence (six) were the predominant sites of initial treatment failure. Six patients received salvage chemotherapy. Histological grade was the only factor significantly associated with overall patient survival (P=0.03). With complete resection, patients with high-grade tumours had a 5-year survival rate of 18 (95 per cent confidence interval 5-62) per cent compared with 80 (52-100) per cent for patients with low-grade tumours. The 5-year survival rate for all 20 patients was 37 (20-60) per cent.


Surgical resection is the only effective therapy for primary hepatic sarcomas at present. Better adjuvant therapy is necessary, especially for high-grade malignancies, owing to the high failure rate with operation alone.

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