New preoperative chemotherapy and radiation regimen yields encouraging results for sarcoma

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A new pilot study suggests that treating soft-tissue sarcoma with a new regimen of intense chemotherapy and a short course of radiation before surgery may be beneficial. About 41 percent of study participants were found to have complete tumor death at the time of surgery. This is important because preoperative tumor death may be a predictor of survival for people with soft tissue sarcoma, an uncommon group of malignant tumors affecting about 8,000 people in the United States annually.

"Our early results suggest good short-term outcome with this aggressive approach," said Christopher Ryan, M.D., lead study investigator and member of the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute. Not much data is available about preoperative tumor death, or necrosis, without chemotherapy, however an older series with a less-aggressive pre-surgery regimen resulted in a 13 percent rate of necrosis.

High-grade soft tissue sarcomas are a group of malignancies that often affect otherwise healthy young people. Tumors often appear as masses on the legs or arms, but also include gastrointestinal stromal tumors, pediatric sarcomas, and sarcomas of the uterus.

"Soft-tissue sarcoma tumors are varied and often complicated, so multidisciplinary care by an experienced sarcoma team is important to successful treatment," said Ryan, also an assistant professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology) in the OHSU School of Medicine. "Surgical, orthopaedic, and medical oncologists; radiation oncologists; and pathologists all have important roles in treating soft-tissue sarcoma."

Sarcoma teams around the country provide preoperative chemotherapy. However, while some recent data suggest chemotherapy may help keep sarcoma from spreading, it is considered a controversial treatment because it never has clearly been shown to improve survival. Well-designed large, randomized studies have not been performed for a number of reasons, inc

Contact: Rachel MacKnight
Oregon Health & Science University

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