Next-Generation Sequencing for Patients with Sarcoma: A Single Center Experience

Oncologist. 2018 Feb;23(2):234-242. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2017-0290. Epub 2017 Aug 31.


Background: Sarcomas comprise over 50 subtypes of mesenchymal cancers. For the majority of sarcomas, the driver mutations remain unknown. In this article, we describe our experience with a targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) platform in clinic patients.

Materials and methods: We retrospectively analyzed results of NGS using 133 tumor samples from patients diagnosed with a variety of sarcomas that were analyzed with targeted NGS covering over 400 cancer-related genes (405 DNA, 265 RNA) on a commercially available platform.

Results: An average of two gene alterations were identified per tumor sample (range 0-14), and a total of 342 DNA mutations were detected. Eight-eight percent of samples had at least one detected mutation. The most common mutations were in the cell cycle, including TP53 (n = 35), CDKN2A/B (n = 23), and RB1 (n = 19). Twenty-seven PI3-kinase pathway alterations were observed, including PTEN (n = 14), PIK3Ca (n = 4), TSC1 (n = 1), TSC2 (n = 3), STK11 (n = 1), mTOR (n = 3), and RICTOR (n = 2). There were 75 mutations in genes that are targetable with existing drugs (excluding KIT in gastrointestinal stromal tumor) that would allow enrollment onto clinical trials. In general, the estimated tumor mutation burden was low, in particular for those with disease-defining gene fusions or genetic alterations. Microsatellite instability (MSI) data were available for 50 patients, and all were MSI stable.

Conclusion: Our study describes a single-center experience with targeted NGS for patients with sarcoma. Mutations were readily detected and 75 (representing 40% of patients) were testable for therapeutic effect using existing drugs within the confines of a clinical trial. These data indicate that targeted NGS is a useful tool in potentially routing patients to mutation-specific clinical trials. Further study will be required to determine if these mutations are clinically meaningful drug targets in sarcoma.

Implications for practice: The sarcomas are a heterogenous family of over 50 different mesenchymal tumors. Current practice for metastatic disease involves systemic chemotherapy or nonspecific kinase inhibitors such as pazopanib. Sarcomas typically lack the classic kinase alterations seen in many carcinomas. The role of next-generation sequencing in sarcoma clinical practice remains undefined.

Keywords: High‐throughput nucleotide sequencing; Mutation; Precision medicine; Sarcoma.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoma / genetics*