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Am J Clin Dermatol. 2008;9(4):207-17.

Potential combination chemotherapy approaches for advanced adult-type soft-tissue sarcoma.

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  • 1Medical Center II, Department of Oncology, Hematology, Rheumatology, Immunology, and Pulmonology, South West German Comprehensive Cancer Center, Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.


Soft-tissue sarcomas (STS) include a spectrum of histologically and clinically different tumors. Patients with these tumors are typically relatively young and the course of disease is characterized by early metastasis as well as limited response to chemotherapy. However, a few subtypes, such as small round-cell tumors and rhabdomyosarcoma (other than pleomorphic), are considered chemotherapy sensitive. In addition, reflecting successful translational research of recent years, gastrointestinal stromal tumor and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans have become model diseases for targeted oncologic therapy. We summarize current treatment options for metastatic STS, including established first-line chemotherapy approaches, mainly with anthracyclines and/or ifosfamide and second-line treatment choices beyond anthracyclines. Until only a few years ago, treatment choices for metastatic STS were easy to review because of the very limited number of active compounds available. However, with the advent of novel therapeutic strategies such as the anti-angiogenic approach and a multitude of novel compounds available both outside and within clinical studies, it has potentially become more difficult to keep track of currently available treatment options for STS and their clinical safety and efficacy. In this practice-oriented article, we therefore review treatment goals in advanced STS and provide an overview of compounds with proven activity in this setting. Anthracyclines with or without ifosfamide are still considered standard of care for most STS subtypes, especially for high-grade tumors. There is no evidence-based recommendation regarding use of second-line treatment options. However, a number of established compounds, including dacarbazine/temozolomide, gemcitabine, taxanes, trofosfamide, DNA topoisomerase I inhibitors, DNA minor groove binders, and bendamustine have shown activity. Recently, trabectedin, a DNA minor groove binder initially isolated from a sea sponge, has proven effective and received European approval for use in treatment-refractory STS. In addition, novel compounds such as bevacizumab, multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitors, mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors, imatinib, and the thrombospondin agonist ABT 510 represent attractive partners for the above-mentioned cytostatic agents, or may even be effective single agents in the clinically advanced setting. Novel combinations are being evaluated in clinical studies. In order to be successful, it may be necessary to combine not only different compounds but also different targets beyond the proliferation machinery of sarcoma cells such as tumor angiogenesis, the tumor stromal compartment, or tumor cell oncogene products.

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