BACKGROUND: Established practice for the management of soft tissue sarcoma (STS) of the extremity and trunk wall combines perioperative radiotherapy (RT) with limb-preserving surgery.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore whether high-quality surgery at high-volume centers may offer equivalent local control in selected cases, when RT needs to be avoided.
METHODS: All consecutive adult cases of primary, high-risk STSs treated in a high-volume reference center over a 12-year timeframe were included, and, on retrospective analysis, were divided into two groups. Group A received RT with surgery, and Group B received surgery alone. The primary endpoint was local recurrence-free survival (LRFS).
RESULTS: Overall, 390 patients were included (318 in Group A and 72 in Group B), with a median follow-up of 53 months. The main reasons for avoiding RT were patient choice and technical considerations (vascular bypass or flap reconstruction). No difference in R0 resection was seen between the groups (79% vs. 70%; p = 0.18), but Group A had more G3 tumors (80.5% vs. 68%; p = 0.021). No difference in 5-year LRFS was evident (84% vs. 81%; p = 0.16).
CONCLUSIONS: LRFS did not differ between patients with high-risk STSs receiving perioperative RT and those treated with surgery alone. The study was retrospective and omission of RT was largely uncontrolled with inherent bias. Nonetheless, data suggest that in experienced centers, the omission of RT did not diminish local disease outcome. Future studies on a selective approach to RT administration are awaited.