Computerized tool predicts sarcoma outcome and improves ability to make better treatment decisions

February 01, 2002

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.

Because the nomogram is available as an easy-to-use software program that can be downloaded onto a computer or a hand-held device, "doctors could literally have this information right on their desks," said lead author Michael Kattan, PhD, who has developed five other nomograms, including four for patients with prostate cancer and one for those with renal cell carcinoma.

While nomograms are not new, their availability as a software program now makes them more easily accessible. "The devices are the wave of the future for many diseases because of their statistical accuracy and ability to shape medical treatment decisions," said Dr. Kattan.

Developing a medical nomogram requires a body of data taken from a large group of patients followed over time. Although sarcoma is a relatively rare disease, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is one of the most experienced hospitals in the world in the treatment of this type of cancer. The study authors were able to tap the world's largest prospective database of sarcoma patients, information Dr. Brennan began collecting in 1982. Since then, he has amassed a database on 5,000 patients with sarcoma treated at the Center.

The research included 2,136 adult patients from that database, all treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and followed prospectively. The variables used to develop the nomogram were age at diagnosis, tumor size, histologic grade and subtype (how the tumor cells appear under microscopic inspection), and tumor depth and location.

The software for the sarcoma nomogram can be downloaded by physicians free of charge from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Web site at A user-friendly sarcoma nomogram geared toward patient use is also planned for the Web site.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is the world's oldest and largest institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research, and education in cancer. Our scientists and clinicians generate innovative approaches to better understand, diagnose, and treat cancer. Our specialists are leaders in biomedical research and in translating the latest research to advance the standard of cancer care worldwide.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to