Soft-tissue sarcomas of the retroperitoneum are rare tumors comprising less than 1% of all malignancies. Although surgery continues as the mainstay of treatment, the large size of these tumors coupled with their proximity to critical structures make resection with wide margins difficult to achieve. The role and timing of radiotherapy are controversial. This study updates our institutional experience using multimodality local therapy for resectable retroperitoneal sarcoma and identifies prognostic factors impacting disease control and survival.
Between 1974 and 2007, 58 patients with nonmetastatic retroperitoneal sarcoma were treated with surgery and radiation at the University of Florida. The median age at radiotherapy was 57 years old (range, 18-80 years). Forty-two patients received preoperative radiotherapy and 16 received postoperative radiotherapy. Nineteen patients received 1.8 Gy once daily and 39 patients received 1.2 Gy twice daily. Variables analyzed for prognostic value included age, grade, kidney involvement, histology, de novo versus recurrent presentation, tumor diameter, margin status, radiotherapy sequencing (preoperative vs. postoperative), total radiation dose, fractionation scheme, and treatment era.
The 5-year overall survival, cause-specific survival, and local control rates were 49%, 58%, and 62%, respectively. Nearly two-thirds of disease failures involved a component of local progression. On multivariate analysis, only margin status was significantly associated with improved 5-year local control (85%, negative margins; 63%, microscopic positive margins; 0%, gross positive margins; p < 0.0001) and 5-year overall survival (64%, negative margins; 56%, microscopic positive margins; 13%, gross positive margins; p = 0.0012). Thirty-one Grade 3 or greater toxicities were observed in 22 patients, including two treatment-related deaths (3%).
For retroperitoneal sarcoma, local control remains a challenge and combined-modality therapy may be associated with significant acute and late morbidity. Our patterns of failure data suggest that improvements in local control may translate into a survival benefit.