BACKGROUND: Soft tissue sarcomas (STS) are a heterogenous group of rare tumors that involve the connective tissue in the body (e.g. muscle, tendons). As with many rare tumors, little is known about the impact of STS on patient well-being.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this review was to better understand current knowledge related to patient experience and quality of life (QOL) following diagnosis of STS.
METHODS: A systematic review of English-language articles published from 2005 to 2015 was conducted in the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, PsychINFO, and Evidence-Based Medicine databases. The review included recent conference proceedings and advocacy websites. Articles were eligible if they included adult STS patient-reported outcomes (PROs) or details on patient experience.
RESULTS: Overall, 3430 articles were identified and 20 were eligible for inclusion. Of these, 14 were clinical studies that included PRO measures, 1 summarized PRO measures used in STS studies, and 5 described the STS patient experience. Patients with STS report a range of impacts on QOL, including emotional well-being, body image, functional deficit following surgery, and practical considerations such as child care and work.
CONCLUSIONS: Few studies have published either qualitative or quantitative data on the patient experience with STS. While STS has a measurable impact on QOL, there is a lack of detailed information in the published literature. Although PROs are used in clinical studies of STS, they are not STS-specific and may not capture the unique needs of this population. There is a need for qualitative research to better understand both patient and caregiver experiences in STS.