Complete pathological response to neoadjuvant treatment is associated with better survival outcomes in patients with soft tissue sarcoma: Results of a retrospective multicenter study

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2021 Aug;47(8):2166-2172. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2021.02.024. Epub 2021 Feb 26.


Background: Locally advanced soft tissue sarcoma (STS) management may include neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment by radiotherapy (RT), chemotherapy (CT) or chemoradiotherapy (CRT) followed by wide surgical excision. While pathological complete response (pCR) to preoperative treatment is prognostic for survival in osteosarcomas, its significance for STS is unclear. We aimed to evaluate the prognostic significance of pCR to pre-operative treatment on 3-year disease-free survival (3y-DFS) in STS patients.

Methods: This is an observational, retrospective, international, study of adult patients with primary non-metastatic STS of the extremities and trunk wall, any grade, diagnosed between 2008 and 2012, treated with at least neoadjuvant treatment and surgical resection and observed for a minimum of 3 years after diagnosis. The primary objective was to evaluate the effect of pCR. (≤5% viable tumor cells or ≥95% necrosis/fibrosis) on 3y-DFS. Effect on local recurrence-free survival (LRFS), distant recurrence-free survival (MFS) overall survival (OS) at 3 years was also analyzed. Statistical univariate analysis utilized chi-square independence test and odds ratio confidence interval (CI) estimate, multivariate analysis was performed using LASSO.

Results: A total of 330 patients (median age 56 years old, range:19-95) treated by preoperative RT (67%), CT (15%) or CRT (18%) followed by surgery were included. pCR was achieved in 74/330 (22%) of patients, of which 56/74 (76%) had received RT. 3-yr DFS was observed in 76% of patients with pCR vs 61% without pCR (p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that pCR is statistically associated with better MFS (95% CI, 1.054-3.417; p = 0.033), LRFS (95% CI, 1.226-5.916; p = 0.014), DFS (95% CI, 1.165-4.040; p = 0.015) and OS at 3 years (95% CI, 1.072-5.210; p = 0.033).

Conclusions: In a wide, heterogeneous STS population we showed that pCR to preoperative treatment is prognostic for survival.

Keywords: Pathological response; Preoperative treatment; Retrospective study; Sarcoma; Surgery; Survival outcomes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chemoradiotherapy / methods*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Extremities / pathology
  • Extremities / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leiomyosarcoma / pathology
  • Leiomyosarcoma / therapy
  • Liposarcoma / pathology
  • Liposarcoma / therapy
  • Liposarcoma, Myxoid / pathology
  • Liposarcoma, Myxoid / therapy
  • Male
  • Margins of Excision
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / methods*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiotherapy / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoma / pathology
  • Sarcoma / therapy*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / pathology
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Torso / pathology
  • Torso / surgery
  • Young Adult


  • Antineoplastic Agents