Patterns of head and neck sarcoma in Australia

Roger H. Woods, J. Alexa Potter, Jessica L. Reid, Jennie Louise, Taryn Bessen, Gelareh Farshid, Susan J. Neuhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Sarcomas affecting the head and neck often require complex management due to the combination of anatomic, aesthetic and oncological considerations. The incidence and patterns of presentation are poorly understood and have not been reviewed in the Australian population. Method: This study sourced incidence and demographic data from the National Cancer Registry at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for the years 1982–2009 (corresponding to 97.3% of the Australian population). All cases of sarcoma, according to ICD-O-3 classification ((International Classification of Diseases for Oncology, 3rd edition), were assessed. Results: A total of 3911 new cases of sarcoma affecting the head and neck were recorded during the period 1982–2009, including 1383, 2106 and 442 cases arising from skin, soft tissue and bone, respectively. The annual incidence rate of sarcomas affecting the head and neck was 1.59 per 100 000 population. The incidence of head and neck sarcoma rose substantially in older age groups (age 65 years and above) and was most common in male patients (69%). Malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) was the most common pathology. There was an increase in incidence in skin-origin sarcoma in the head and neck, particularly affecting elderly males. Conclusion: The incidence of head and neck sarcoma in Australia is higher than that reported for an equivalent European population. The increase in MFH arising from the skin in elderly male patients mirrors the patterns of common cutaneous malignancy, particularly melanoma, suggesting that ultraviolet radiation is an epidemiological factor. Management of head and neck sarcoma is complex and best managed in a specialist multidisciplinary environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-906
Number of pages6
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • epidemiology
  • head and neck neoplasms
  • histiocytoma
  • malignant fibrous
  • sarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

Cite this