Treatment options in unresectable soft tissue and bone sarcoma of the extremities and pelvis - a systematic literature review

Maria Anna Smolle, Joanna Szkandera, Dimosthenis Andreou, Emanuela Palmerini, Marko Bergovec, Andreas Leithner

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In patients with metastatic or unresectable soft tissue and bone sarcoma of extremities and pelvis, survival is generally poor. The aim of the current systematic review was to analyse recent publications on treatment approaches in patients with inoperable and/or metastatic sarcoma.Original articles published between 1st January 2011 and 2nd May 2020, using the search terms 'unresectable sarcoma', 'inoperability AND sarcoma', 'inoperab* AND sarcoma', and 'treatment AND unresectable AND sarcoma' in PubMed, were potentially eligible. Out of the 839 initial articles (containing 274 duplicates) obtained and 23 further articles identified by cross-reference checking, 588 were screened, of which 447 articles were removed not meeting the inclusion criteria. A further 54 articles were excluded following full-text assessment, resulting in 87 articles finally being analysed.Of the 87 articles, 38 were retrospective (43.7%), two prospective (2.3%), six phase I or I/II trials (6.9%), 22 phase II non-randomized trials (27.6%), nine phase II randomized trials (10.3%) and eight phase III randomized trials (9.2%). Besides radio/particle therapy, isolated limb perfusion and conventional chemotherapy, novel therapeutic approaches, including immune checkpoint inhibitors and tyrosine kinase inhibitors were also identified, with partially very promising effects in advanced sarcomas.Management of inoperable, advanced or metastatic sarcomas of the pelvis and extremities remains challenging, with the optimal treatment to be defined individually. Besides conventional chemotherapy, some novel therapeutic approaches have promising effects in both bone and soft tissue subtypes. Considering that only a small proportion of studies were randomized, the clinical evidence currently remains moderate and thus calls for further large, randomized clinical trials. Cite this article: EFORT Open Rev 2020;5:799-814. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.5.200069.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-814
Number of pages16
JournalEFORT Open Reviews
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 13 2020


  • inoperable sarcoma
  • advanced sarcom
  • treat-ment approach
  • novel therapeutic


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