Purpose: We report data from phase II trials examining the efficacy of multimodality treatment with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, hyperthermia, surgery, radiation and postoperative thermochemotherapy in adult patients with high-risk sarcomas of the extremities.
Patients and methods: From 1991 to 2001 47 patients with high risk soft tissue sarcoma of the extremities were prospectively treated in two clinical trials with a treatment plan of four cycles of etoposide, ifosfamide and doxorubicin combined with regional hyperthermia followed by surgery, radiation and adjuvant chemotherapy.
Results: Objective response rate assessable in 39 patients was 21% (one complete and seven partial responses). A favourable histological response (>75% tumour necrosis) was observed in 34% of the 35 evaluable patients who had surgical resection. Median overall survival (OS) was 105 months. The five-year probability of local failure-free survival (LFFS), distant disease-free survival (DDFS), event-free survival (EFS) and OS were 48%, 55%, 35% and 57%, respectively. There were no significant differences between responders and non-responders of minimum temperatures (Tmin) and time-averaged temperatures achieved in 50% (T(50)) and 90% (T(90)) at all measured tumour sites. Response to this neoadjuvant regimen predicted for prolonged LFFS (p = 0.0123), but not for OS (p = 0.2). Limb preservation was achieved in 37 patients (79%) and did not result in inferior DDFS (52% versus 50%) or OS (61% versus 50%) at five years (p = 0.8) in comparison to patients who underwent amputation.
Conclusion: Response to combined modality treatment with RHT and neoadjuvant chemotherapy was predictive for an improved LFFS and led to limb preservation in 79% of patients with extremity sarcomas.