Evolution of Randomized Trials in Advanced/Metastatic Soft Tissue Sarcoma: End Point Selection, Surrogacy, and Quality of Reporting

J Clin Oncol. 2016 May 1;34(13):1469-75. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.64.3437. Epub 2016 Mar 7.


Purpose: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in soft tissue sarcoma (STS) have used varying end points. The surrogacy of intermediate end points, such as progression-free survival (PFS), response rate (RR), and 3-month and 6-month PFS (3moPFS and 6moPFS) with overall survival (OS), remains unknown. The quality of efficacy and toxicity reporting in these studies is also uncertain.

Methods: A systematic review of systemic therapy RCTs in STS was performed. Surrogacy between intermediate end points and OS was explored using weighted linear regression for the hazard ratio for OS with the hazard ratio for PFS or the odds ratio for RR, 3moPFS, and 6moPFS. The quality of reporting for efficacy and toxicity was also evaluated.

Results: Fifty-two RCTs published between 1974 and 2014, comprising 9,762 patients, met the inclusion criteria. There were significant correlations between PFS and OS (R = 0.61) and between RR and OS (R = 0.51). Conversely, there were nonsignificant correlations between 3moPFS and 6moPFS with OS. A reduction in the use of RR as the primary end point was observed over time, favoring time-based events (P for trend = .02). In 14% of RCTs, the primary end point was not met, but the study was reported as being positive. Toxicity was comprehensively reported in 47% of RCTs, whereas 14% inadequately reported toxicity.

Conclusion: In advanced STS, PFS and RR seem to be appropriate surrogates for OS. There is poor correlation between OS and both 3moPFS and 6moPFS. As such, caution is urged with the use of these as primary end points in randomized STS trials. The quality of toxicity reporting and interpretation of results is suboptimal.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Prognosis
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Sarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Sarcoma / secondary
  • Survival Rate


  • Antineoplastic Agents