Background: Individually, randomised trials have not shown conclusively whether adjuvant chemotherapy benefits adult patients with localised resectable soft-tissue sarcoma.
Methods: A quantitative meta-analysis of updated data from individual patients from all available randomised trials was carried out to assess whether adjuvant chemotherapy improves overall survival, recurrence-free survival, and local and distant recurrence-free intervals (RFI) and whether chemotherapy is differentially effective in patients defined by age, sex, disease status at randomisation, disease site, histology, grade, tumour size, extent of resection, and use of radiotherapy.
Findings: 1568 patients from 14 trials of doxorubicin-based adjuvant chemotherapy were included (median follow-up 9.4 years). Hazard ratios of 0.73 (95% CI 0.56-0.94, p = 0.016) for local RFI, 0.70 (0.57-0.85, p = 0.0003) for distant RFI, and 0.75 (0.64-0.87, p = 0.0001) for overall recurrence-free survival, correspond to absolute benefits from adjuvant chemotherapy of 6% (95% CI 1-10), 10% (5-15), and 10% (5-15), respectively, at 10 years. For overall survival the hazard ratio of 0.89 (0.76-1.03) was not significant (p = 0.12), but represents an absolute benefit of 4% (1-9) at 10 years. These results were not affected by prespecified changes in the groups of patients analysed. There was no consistent evidence that the relative effect of adjuvant chemotherapy differed for any subgroup of patients for any endpoint. However, the best evidence of an effect of adjuvant chemotherapy for survival was seen in patients with sarcomas of the extremities.
Interpretation: The meta-analysis provides evidence that adjuvant doxorubicin-based chemotherapy significantly improves the time to local and distant recurrence and overall recurrence-free survival. There is a trend towards improved overall survival.