Sarcomas of the soft tissue are a heterogeneous, rare and complex group of mesenchymal malignant tumors, accounting for less than 1% of all adult malignancies and about 10-15% of childhood cancer. Despite local disease control obtained with surgery and pre- or postoperative
radiotherapy, roughly one half of patients with high-grade tumors experience metastatic disease. The adjunction of chemotherapy, either before or after resection, is not currently viewed as standard practice due to the lack of reproducible impact on survival. The 1997 SMAC meta-analysis based
on individual data from randomized studies confirmed a significant impact of adjuvant chemotherapy on both local and metastatic relapse, without any significant benefit on survival. Further meta-analyses demonstrated a significant benefit also in overall survival. Yet, the latest adjuvant
EORTC trial was disappointedly negative. To date, adjuvant chemotherapy may be recommended as a reasonable option for the high-risk individual patient who should be well informed on the possible risks and benefits of treatment. Also the indications for neoadjuvant chemotherapy remain controversial.
A local benefit may be gained, facilitating surgery, but data on survival are limited and affected by a strong patient selection bias. In order to improve our knowledge on sarcomas and to offer patients the best of current standards, we strongly recommend that all patients be referred to a
sarcoma multidisciplinary group, under whose supervision they could receive the correct combined-modality management as well as have access to new clinical trials appropriately stratified for risk and histological and/or molecular subtypes.
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