Future treatment of soft tissue sarcomas will be driven by histological subtype and molecular aberrations

Eur J Cancer. 2010 Mar;46(5):863-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2010.01.016.


Soft tissue sarcomas, although sharing a mesenchymal origin, are a heterogeneous group of diseases. Nevertheless they are studied and frequently treated as if they were all the same. Recent developments suggest that a different approach may be more adequate. Genetic profiling studies have indicated that some soft tissue sarcoma subtypes, despite a distinct histo-pathological difference, may be closely related. Molecular biology research in addition has identified several subtype-specific oncogenes and their protein products that could serve as treatment targets. Since many of the new molecularly targeted agents do not induce tumour regression, but mainly result in growth inhibition, it is therefore necessary also to change the study end-point in screening studies in the search for active treatments. In view of all these it is proposed to consider using alternative end-points such as progression-free rates at pre-set times, or progression arrest at first evaluation. By using databases from large cooperative groups it should be possible to identify progression arrest rates for each specific subtype, and these could serve as reference for future trial design. Soft tissue sarcoma treatment and research will require a change of approach and necessitate global cooperation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Benzamides
  • Cytotoxins / therapeutic use*
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / drug therapy
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / genetics
  • Disease Progression
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / drug therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / genetics
  • Hemangioendothelioma / drug therapy
  • Hemangioendothelioma / genetics
  • Hemangiosarcoma / drug therapy
  • Hemangiosarcoma / genetics
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Leiomyosarcoma / drug therapy
  • Leiomyosarcoma / genetics
  • Liposarcoma, Myxoid / drug therapy
  • Liposarcoma, Myxoid / genetics
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use
  • Research Design
  • Sarcoma* / drug therapy
  • Sarcoma* / genetics
  • Sarcoma* / pathology
  • Sarcoma, Synovial / drug therapy
  • Sarcoma, Synovial / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzamides
  • Cytotoxins
  • Piperazines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Imatinib Mesylate