Angiosarcoma Follow-up

Updated: Dec 02, 2020
  • Author: Maria Belén Carsi, MD, PhD, FRCS; Chief Editor: Edwin Choy, MD, PhD  more...
  • Print

Further Outpatient Care

Soft-tissue and bone angiosarcomas

Recurrent neoplasms typically (80% of cases) develop within 2 years of the resection. Thus, the follow-up should be extremely stringent (ie, every 3 months in the first 2 years).

A chest radiograph every 6 months during this period is mandatory. If the chest radiograph reveals a suspicious nodule, obtain a CT scan of the chest for confirmation.

MRI is the most accurate technique for detecting locally recurrent or residual sarcoma. The baseline postoperative MRI examination serves a vital role in the evaluation.

After the first 2 years, schedule visits every 6 months for the next 3 years. After 5 years, see patients annually.

The differential diagnosis for signal abnormality on a postoperative MRI includes the following:

  • Residual or recurrent neoplasm
  • Postsurgical/postradiation change
  • Scarring
  • Fluid collection

The residual or recurrent neoplasm usually is a discrete, ovoid, or rounded soft tissue mass. Nonspecific signal characteristics are present, with intermediate-to-low signal intensity in T1-weighted images and high signal on T2-weighted images. The lesion enhances with gadolinium. Comparison with prior postoperative examinations is essential.

Postsurgical/postradiation change usually appears as a regional distribution of signal abnormality, with a linear, trabeculated, or latticelike morphology. This has low-to-intermediate signal on T1-weighted images and high signal on T2-weighted images.

Scars show a linear morphology. Scars correspond with skin thickening and the loss of adjacent subcutaneous fat. A scar has low signal on both T1-weighted images and T2-weighted images, although they can present a linear high-signal intensity on T2-weighted images and a variable enhancement with gadolinium.

Fluid collection develops as an abscess, seroma, or hematoma. Seromas are the most common. They represent a signal intensity lower than muscle on T1-weighted images and high signal on T2-weighted images and can be differentiated from recurrence with gadolinium.

Hematomas usually appear in the subacute stage at the time of the first postoperative MRI. Because of the methemoglobin, hematomas show a characteristic high signal on T1-weighted images and T2-weighted images.

Abscesses present as low signal on T1-weighted images and high signal on T2-weighted images and may show some low-signal intensity depending on the presence of a fibrous capsule. Following gadolinium administration, they appear as a nonenhancing fluid collection with a thick, nodular, peripherally enhancing rim.

Cutaneous angiosarcoma

Patients need clinical examination every 3 months to detect possible recurrences. Palpation of the cervical lymph nodes remains a major tool.

Imaging studies include CT scan and MRI of the head and neck and plain chest radiograph and CT chest scans every 3 months for 1 year, every 6 months for 2 more years, and then annually. Distant metastasis can occur late.


Further Inpatient Care

With larger higher-grade soft-tissue angiosarcomas, adjuvant radiotherapy is effective in reducing local recurrence.

Radiotherapy can be delivered intraoperatively, by brachytherapy, or by external beam radiotherapy (EBRT). The brachytherapy technique results in rates of tumor control similar to those obtained with EBRT, with a similar rate of wound complications. Moreover, it presents the advantage of requiring only 5 days, rather than the 5-6 weeks needed for EBRT, and reduces radiation scatter. Brachytherapy is often the technique of choice in angiosarcomas near joints or gonads.

In bone angiosarcoma, specialist use combinations of radiation therapy and chemotherapy as adjuvant methods of treatment, but significant data about their effectiveness are lacking.

In cutaneous angiosarcoma, postoperative radiotherapy is warranted in cases with unsatisfactory margins, large tumor size, deep extension, and multicentricity. Radical radiation therapy in the form of high-field electron beam therapy shows promise in prolonging survival of patients with localized lesions.



Prevention of angiosarcoma is included in cancer prevention guidelines. The reduction of cancer mortality is achieved via reduction in the incidence of cancer.

Prevention strategies include avoiding carcinogens and adopting lifestyle or dietary factors that modify cancer-causing factors or genetic predispositions, alter carcinogen metabolism, or alter end-organ effects of carcinogens. Prevention also includes the successful treatment of preneoplastic lesions.



Complications from radiotherapy include the following:

  • Wound complications
  • Fractures

Complications from chemotherapy include the following:

  • Fever
  • Dose-dependent myelosuppression
  • Nausea and vomiting unresponsive to antiemetics
  • Moderate-to-severe fatigue
  • Alopecia or hemialopecia in intraarterial chemotherapy

Complications from surgery are as follows:

  • Anesthetic complications
  • Blood loss
  • Infection, sepsis
  • Wound complications
  • Iatrogenic neurovascular injury
  • Deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism
  • Limited limb function


Soft tissue angiosarcoma

Angiosarcoma of the soft tissue is a high-grade sarcoma with a high rate of death and short survival time. A large number of patients, 50% in some series, also had metastasis, and a significant number (20%) had local recurrences. [3, 10, 11]

Older patient age, retroperitoneum location, and larger tumor size are unfavorable prognostic factors. Approximately 66% of retroperitoneal angiosarcomas recur locally in the tumor bed and can recur diffusely throughout the peritoneal cavity (angiosarcomatosis).

Bone angiosarcoma

High-grade angiosarcomas exhibit extremely aggressive behavior with rapid local growth and early disseminated metastasis. Prognosis depends on the histologic grade, with the disease-free survival rate reported as 95% in grade 1 tumors, 62% in grade 2, and 20% in grade 3. Multicentricity does not affect prognosis.

Cutaneous angiosarcoma

Despite aggressive treatment, prognosis is poor. The median survival ranges from 15-24 months, with a 5-year survival rate of 12-33%. Local failure and metastases to local cervical lymph nodes are common. The lung is the most common site of distant metastasis, followed by the liver and bone, although these tend to occur late.

Unlike other sarcomas, grade is not useful in predicting survival. No correlation exists between appearance (eg, ulcerated, nodular, diffuse) and survival or local recurrence.

Findings of significantly favorable prognostic importance appear to be smaller tumor size (< 5 cm), complete surgical resection, and a moderate or marked lymphoid infiltrate in and around the tumor.

Unresectable lesions and metastatic disease at diagnosis suggest a dismal prognosis. Death can occur either from local extension or metastasis. Delayed diagnosis and treatment explain, in part, the poor prognosis of cutaneous angiosarcomas.


Patient Education

For patient education information, see the Cancer Center.