Prospective randomized evaluation of adjuvant chemotherapy in adults with soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities
Sixty-five patients with high-grade soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities were treated in a prospective randomized trial evaluating the efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy with doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, and high-dose methotrexate. Local therapy was administered using either amputation or wide local resection plus radiation therapy and the chemotherapy was begun in the immediate postoperative period. Actuarial analysis with median follow-up of 653 days revealed an advantage in continuous disease-free and overall survival in the patient group receiving chemotherapy (P = 0.0008 and P = 0.04, respectively, one-sided Mantel-Haenszel test). The continuous disease-free survival at three years is 92% in the chemotherapy group compared to 60% in the no chemotherapy group. Overall survival is 95% and 74% in these two patient groups. Fifty-eight percent of patients had limb-sparing surgery plus radiation therapy and 42% underwent amputation. In both treatment subgroups analyzed separately, chemotherapy resulted in an improvement in disease-free survival compared to randomized controls not receiving chemotherapy (P = 0.006 and P = 0.04 for groups receiving amputation and limb sparing, respectively). There were no local failures in the patients receiving chemotherapy and two local failures in the no chemotherapy group. The results of this trial confirm the historically controlled pilot trial performed in 26 patients between 1975 and 1977. A current update of the patients in the pilot trial, with a minimum four-year follow-up, reveals an improvement in disease-free and overall survival due to chemotherapy (P less than 0.002). Analysis of the previous pilot trial indicates that only few recurrences are seen beyond three years. Thus, it appears that adjuvant chemotherapy should be a part of the treatment adult patients with soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities.