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Treatment of Progressive / Recurrent Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma

    With the possible exception of infants with infantile fibrosarcoma, the prognosis for patients with recurrent or progressive disease is poor. No prospective trial has been able to prove that enhanced local control of pediatric soft tissue sarcomas (STSs) will ultimately improve survival. Therefore, treatment should be individualized for the site of recurrence and biologic characteristics (e.g., grade, invasiveness, and size) of the tumor.

    Decisions about treatment options for progressive or recurrent childhood STS are based on many factors, including the following:

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    • Site of recurrence.
    • Tumor biologic characteristics.
    • Prior therapies.
    • Individual patient considerations.

    Standard treatment options for recurrent or progressive disease include the following:

    • Surgical excision of local recurrence or isolated pulmonary recurrence.
    • Surgical excision of local recurrence followed by radiation therapy or brachytherapy (if no prior radiation therapy was given).
    • Limb amputation (only for some children with extremity sarcomas that have already received radiation therapy).
    • Gemcitabine and docetaxel.[1]
    • Trabectedin.[2,3,4]
    • A clinical trial of new chemotherapeutic regimens.

    Resection is the standard treatment for recurrent pediatric nonrhabdomyosarcomatous STSs. If the patient has not yet received radiation therapy, adjuvant radiation should be considered after local excision of the recurrent tumor. Limb-sparing procedures with adjuvant brachytherapy have been evaluated in adults but have not been studied extensively in children. For some children with extremity sarcomas who have received previous radiation therapy, amputation may be the only therapeutic option.

    Pulmonary metastasectomy may achieve prolonged disease control for some patients.[5] A large, retrospective analysis of patients with recurrent STS showed that isolated local relapse had a better prognosis and that resection of pulmonary metastases improved the probability of survival.[6] All patients with recurrent tumors should be considered for current clinical trials.

    Current Clinical Trials

    Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent childhood soft tissue sarcoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

    General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


    1. Maki RG, Wathen JK, Patel SR, et al.: Randomized phase II study of gemcitabine and docetaxel compared with gemcitabine alone in patients with metastatic soft tissue sarcomas: results of sarcoma alliance for research through collaboration study 002 [corrected]. J Clin Oncol 25 (19): 2755-63, 2007.
    2. Le Cesne A, Cresta S, Maki RG, et al.: A retrospective analysis of antitumour activity with trabectedin in translocation-related sarcomas. Eur J Cancer 48 (16): 3036-44, 2012.
    3. Garcia-Carbonero R, Supko JG, Maki RG, et al.: Ecteinascidin-743 (ET-743) for chemotherapy-naive patients with advanced soft tissue sarcomas: multicenter phase II and pharmacokinetic study. J Clin Oncol 23 (24): 5484-92, 2005.
    4. Garcia-Carbonero R, Supko JG, Manola J, et al.: Phase II and pharmacokinetic study of ecteinascidin 743 in patients with progressive sarcomas of soft tissues refractory to chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 22 (8): 1480-90, 2004.
    5. Belal A, Salah E, Hajjar W, et al.: Pulmonary metastatectomy for soft tissue sarcomas: is it valuable? J Cardiovasc Surg (Torino) 42 (6): 835-40, 2001.
    6. Zagars GK, Ballo MT, Pisters PW, et al.: Prognostic factors for disease-specific survival after first relapse of soft-tissue sarcoma: analysis of 402 patients with disease relapse after initial conservative surgery and radiotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 57 (3): 739-47, 2003.

      WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

      Last Updated: February 25, 2014
      This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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