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Fromm, Julian; Klein, Alexander; Kirilova, Maya; Lindner, Lars Hartwin; Nachbichler, Silke; Holzapfel, Boris Michael; Goller, Sophia Samira; Knösel, Thomas; Dürr, Hans Roland (2024): The Effect of chemo- and radiotherapy on tumor necrosis in soft tissue sarcoma– does it influence prognosis? BMC Cancer, 24 (1). ISSN 1471-2407

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Soft tissue sarcomas (STSs) are a heterogeneous group of tumors. Wide surgical resection is standard, often combined with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or both. Studies have shown the predictive value of tumor necrosis in bone sarcoma (BS); however, the role of necrosis in STS after neoadjuvant therapies is still unclear. This study aimed to investigate the role of chemo- and radiotherapy in the formation of tumor necrosis and to evaluate the influence of tumor necrosis on overall survival and local recurrence-free survival. Data from BS patients and patients who did not receive neoadjuvant therapy were compared.

A total of 779 patients with STS or BS were treated surgically. In all patients, tumor-specific factors such as type, size, or grading and the type of adjuvant therapy were documented. Local recurrence (LR), the diagnosis of metastatic disease, and survival during follow-up were evaluated.

A total of 565 patients with STS and 214 with BS were investigated. In STS, 24.1% G1 lesions, 34.1% G2 lesions, and 41.8% G3 lesions were observed. Two hundred twenty-four of the patients with STS and neoadjuvant therapy had either radiotherapy (RTx) (n = 80), chemotherapy (CTx) (n = 93), or both (n = 51). Three hundred forty-one had no neoadjuvant therapy at all. In STS, tumor necrosis after neoadjuvant treatment was significantly higher (53.5%) than in patients without neoadjuvant therapy (15.7%) (p < 0.001). Patients with combined neoadjuvant chemo-/radiotherapy had substantially higher tumor necrosis than those with radiotherapy alone (p = 0.032). There was no difference in tumor necrosis in patients with combined chemo-/radiotherapy and chemotherapy alone (p = 0.4). The mean overall survival for patients with STS was 34.7 months. Tumor necrosis did not influence survival in a subgroup of G2/3 patients. In STS with no neoadjuvant therapy and grading of G2/3, the correlation between necrosis and overall survival was significant (p = 0.0248). There was no significant correlation between local recurrence (LR) and necrosis.

STS shows a broad spectrum of necrosis even without neoadjuvant chemo- or radiotherapy. After CTx or/and RTx necrosis is enhanced and is significantly pronounced with a combination of both. There is a trend toward higher necrosis with CTx than with RTx. Grading substantially influences the necrosis rate, but necrosis in soft-tissue sarcoma following neoadjuvant therapy does not correlate with better survival or a lower local recurrence rate, as in bone sarcomas.

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