Ifosfamide and anthracyclines are the only active agents in advanced soft tissue sarcomas. Doxorubicin was always used in sarcomas, whereas ifosfamide was reintroduced in the clinic after the discovery of mesna which prevents its typical dose-limiting toxicity: hemorrhagic cystitis. In the adjuvant setting, doxorubicin was used alone or in combination in the first-generation trials, whereas its parent compounds epirubicin and ifosfamide were employed in the second-generation adjuvant trials, which started in the early 90s. Other relevant aspects of the second-generation trials are the use of the hematopoietic growth factors and the increase of the dose intensity, the introduction of more restrictive selection criteria and the use of the two most active agents, ifosfamide and anthracyclines. Only the Italian cooperative trial has been concluded, and the results reported and updated. After a median follow-up of 89.6 months (range 56–119), the intention-to-treat analysis still reveals a difference in overall survival which, however, is not statistically significant. However, the 5-year overall survival estimate, which is a reasonable end point for the survival analysis of adjuvant treatment in soft tissue sarcomas, was 66.0 and 46.1% for the treatment and the control groups, respectively (p = 0.04).
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