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


Role of regional hyperthermia

The use of regional hyperthermia to enhance the local effects of systemic chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant and adjuvant setting is under investigation. In a multicenter phase III trial, 341 patients with high-risk (tumor ≥5 cm, grade 2–3, and deep to fascia) soft tissue sarcomas (149 extremity tumors and 192 nonextremity tumors) were randomly allocated to receive four 21-day cycles of chemotherapy (etoposide 125 mg/m2 on days 1 and 4; ifosfamide 1500 mg/m2 on days 1–4; doxorubicin 50 mg/m2 on day 1) with or without regional hyperthermia both before and after local therapy.[36] Approximately 11% of the patients were being treated for recurrent tumors. The regional hyperthermia was designed to produce tumor temperatures of 42°C for 60 minutes and was given on days 1 and 4 of each chemotherapy cycle. After the first four cycles of chemotherapy, definitive surgical excision of the tumor was performed, if possible, followed by radiation therapy, if indicated (i.e., a 52.7 Gy median dose delivered), and then the last four cycles of chemotherapy plus or minus hyperthermia. Three of the nine treatment centers with particular expertise in hyperthermia treated 91% of the patients in the trial.

The median duration of follow-up was 34 months. Local progression occurred in 56 patients in the hyperthermia group and 76 patients in the control group. The relative HR for local progression or death was 0.58 (95% CI, 0.41–0.84), with an absolute difference at 2 years of 15% (76% vs. 61%; 95% CI of the difference 6–26). The decreased risk of local progression or death was seen in both extremity and nonextremity tumors. However, hyperthermia had no effect on distant failure rates nor was there a statistically significant effect on OS (HR, .88, 95% CI, 0.64–1.21; P = .43).[36][Level of evidence: 1iiDiii] There was a higher rate of grade 3 to 4 leucopenia in the hyperthermia group: 77.6% versus 63.5% (P = .005). Since a large proportion of the patients were treated at centers with special expertise, there is no certainty that the finding can be generalized to apply to other settings.

Role of isolated limb perfusion

Isolated limb perfusion is under investigation as a means to deliver high doses of chemotherapy and permit limb salvage in unresectable primary or recurrent extremity soft tissue sarcomas that would otherwise require amputation, in the opinion of the surgeon.[37,38] Common drugs used in the procedure are TNF-alpha, melphalan, and interferon-gamma. Experience is limited to case series with response rates and reported avoidance of amputation as the outcome.[37,38][Level of evidence 3iiiDiv] The technique requires specialized expertise to avoid severe local and systemic toxicity including systemic effects of TNF-alpha. The technique has not been directly compared to standard approaches with combined systemic and local therapy.


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
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