Retroperitoneal soft-tissue sarcomas are locally invasive tumors that remain occult for long periods and grow quite large due to the abdominal cavity's remarkable ability to accommodate these slowly expanding masses with a paucity of attendant symptoms. An open biopsy is required to establish diagnosis definitively. Despite improved imaging techniques and preoperative and intraoperative patient management, resectability has not changed significantly in the past 20 years. Even with an aggressive operative approach, only one half the tumors can be resected completely, and of those, more than 90% recur locally and result in the death of the patient. The addition of adjuvant radiotherapy or chemotherapy has not altered this pattern of local failure, in contrast to promising results with extremity soft-tissue sarcoma. Because of the rarity of these tumors, there is an urgent need to establish a national retroperitoneal sarcoma registry and to form cooperative intergroup studies to evaluate, treat, and apply innovative multimodality combination therapies to these otherwise lethal tumors.
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