BACKGROUND: Almost half of patients diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma (STS) are older than 65 years; however, the outcomes of elderly patients with metastatic disease are not well described.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: An elderly cohort of patients aged ≥65 years was extracted from the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma Group database of patients treated with first-line chemotherapy for advanced STS within 12 EORTC clinical trials. Endpoints were overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and response rate (RR).
RESULTS: Of 2,810 participants in EORTC trials, there were 348 elderly patients (12.4%, median 68 years; interquartile range [IQR], 67-70; maximum 84 years) and 2,462 patients aged <65 years (median 49 years; IQR, 39-57). Most elderly patients had a performance status of 0 (n = 134; 39%) or 1 (n = 177; 51%). Leiomyosarcoma (n = 130; 37%) was the most common histological subtype. Lung metastases were present in 181 patients (52%) and liver metastases in 63 patients (18%). Overall, 126 patients (36%) received doxorubicin, 114 patients (33%) doxorubicin + ifosfamide, 43 patients (12%) epirubicin, 39 patients (11%) trabectedin, and 26 patients (7%) ifosfamide. Overall RR was 14.9% (n = 52), median PFS was 3.5 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.7-4.3), and median OS was 10.8 months (95% CI, 9.43-11.83). In patients aged <65 years, overall RR was 20.3% (n = 501), median OS was 12.3 months (95% CI, 11.9-12.9), and median PFS was 4.3 months (95% CI, 3.9-4.6).
CONCLUSION: Elderly patients with metastatic STS treated with first-line chemotherapy were largely underrepresented in these EORTC STS trials. Their outcomes were only slightly worse than those of younger patients. Novel trials with broader eligibility criteria are needed for elderly patients. These trials should incorporate geriatric assessments and measurements of age-adjusted health-related quality of life.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: This analysis demonstrates that elderly patients with advanced soft tissue sarcoma are underrepresented in clinical trials of first-line chemotherapy by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma Group. Furthermore, the elderly participants were generally of excellent performance status, which is not representative of an unselected elderly population. These data provide rationale for development of novel trials for elderly patients that are not only for "elite" patients but include comprehensive geriatric assessments for risk stratification. Because chemotherapy for advanced soft tissue sarcomas is largely given with palliative intent, incorporation of health-related quality of life measures with traditional endpoints will provide a more holistic approach to future clinical trials.