PURPOSE: Pediatric sarcomas represent an important group of childhood tumors that require treatment at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), the largest pediatric oncology center in Tanzania. Treatment is often adapted from established childhood protocols validated in clinical trials from the United States and the United Kingdom. There are no studies describing the types of pediatric sarcomas most commonly seen in Tanzania to understand similarities and disparities with other countries and which sarcomas to prioritize in adapting treatment protocols. The objective of this study was to establish a baseline of the epidemiologic and clinical features of pediatric sarcomas diagnosed at MNH.METHODS: Information was collected on clinical and tumor features of all children seen at MNH pediatric oncology unit between 2011 and 2016 with a confirmed histologic diagnosis of either bone or soft tissue sarcoma (STS).RESULTS: A total of 135 cases were analyzed; 89 (66%) were STS and 46 (34%) were bone sarcomas. There was a slight female predominance (n = 69; 51%), and the mean age (SD) of patients was 6.3 (5.1) years. Greater than 90% (n = 123) of the cases presented with a painless swelling. The commonest STS, accounting for almost three-fourths of the cases (n = 66) was rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), with embryonal subtype being the most common RMS (n = 49; 74%). Osteosarcoma was the most common bone sarcoma, accounting for greater than 80% (n = 40) of the cases. Ewing sarcoma accounted for less than 15% (n = 6). Most of the patients presented with stage IV disease (n = 57; 87%) and lung was the commonest metastatic site.CONCLUSION: To our knowledge, this report is the first study documenting the epidemiologic and clinical features of pediatric sarcomas in a modern Tanzanian pediatric hospital. Embryonal RMS and osteosarcomas should be prioritized for adapting treatment protocols from other countries.
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