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Adult Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview


In a third, underpowered, single-center trial, 88 patients with high-risk soft tissue sarcomas (64 of whom had extremity or truncal primary tumors) underwent surgery (with or without radiation) and were then randomly assigned to receive four 21-day cycles of chemotherapy (epirubicin [n = 26] or epirubicin plus ifosfamide [n = 19]) versus no adjuvant chemotherapy (n = 43).[30] The trial was closed prematurely because of a slow accrual rate. After a median follow-up of 94 months, the 5-year DFS in the chemotherapy and control arms was 69% versus 44%, respectively (P = .01); the 5-year OS rates were 72% versus 47% (P = .06). All of the benefit associated with chemotherapy appeared restricted to the 19 patients who received epirubicin plus ifosfamide.

In yet another underpowered trial, 137 patients with high-risk soft tissue sarcomas (93% with extremity or truncal primary tumors) who met the eligibility criteria were randomly assigned to undergo surgical resection (with or without radiation) or to receive three preoperative 21-day cycles of doxorubicin plus ifosfamide.[31] This multicenter European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer trial (EORTC-62874) was closed because of slow accrual and results that were not promising enough to continue. With a median follow-up of 7.3 years, the 5-year DFS in the surgery alone and chemotherapy plus surgery arms was 52% and 56%, respectively (P = .35); and OS was 64% and 65%, respectively (P = .22).

These last four trials have been combined with the 14 first-generation trials in a trial-level meta-analysis.[32] Of the 18 randomized trials of patients with resectable soft tissue sarcomas, five trials used a combination of doxorubicin (50-90 mg/m2 per cycle) plus ifosfamide (1500-5000 mg/m2 per cycle). The remaining 13 trials used doxorubicin (50-70 mg/m2 per cycle) alone or with other drugs. The absolute risk reduction in local recurrence rates associated with any chemotherapy added to local therapy was 4 percentage points (95% CI, 0%-7%), and it was 5 percentage points (95% CI, 1%-12%) when ifosfamide was combined with doxorubicin. The absolute reduction in overall mortality was 6 percentage points with any chemotherapy (95% CI, 2%-11%; [i.e., a reduction from 46%-40%]), 11 percentage points for doxorubicin plus ifosfamide (95% CI, 3%-19%; [i.e., a reduction from 41%-30%]), and 5 percentage points for doxorubicin without ifosfamide.[32][Level of evidence: 1iiA]

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