NEW YORK, - In a development that holds promise for advancing the treatment of patients with sarcoma, researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have developed a new prognostic tool that is more accurate than any previously available for this disease. The tool, called a nomogram, is a computerized statistical program that may enable doctors to more accurately predict patient outcome, allowing doctors and patients to better design treatment and ensure that patients at greatest risk of recurrence can be more aggressively treated, while patients at low risk can avoid unnecessary additional treatment.
In a study published in the February 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering researchers showed the sarcoma nomogram was highly effective in projecting patients' chances of surviving the disease for at least 12 years after diagnosis, based on predictive variables such as age at diagnosis and tumor size, among others. In creating the nomogram, the researchers were able to combine all the known prognostic factors for the first time, weighting each one according to its relative predictive importance.
"Physicians and patients can better tailor their treatment decisions with the nomogram because they can accurately predict - at the time of the patient's first visit - a patient's likelihood for surviving sarcoma," said the study's senior author, Murray Brennan, MD, chairman of the Department of Surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
Sarcoma is a cancer of the bone, soft tissue, or connective tissues that strikes about 8,000 Americans each year. Currently, about half of all sarcoma patients die of the disease within 10 years of diagnosis. "By enabling physicians to tailor treatments based on prognosis, the sarcoma nomogram could mean better outcomes for patients," said Dr. Brennan.