Phase III Soft Tissue Sarcoma Trials: Success or Failure?

Alexander T.J. Lee, Seth M. Pollack, Paul Huang, Robin L. Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Two recently reported phase III randomised control trials (RCTs) have resulted in the registration of two new systemic therapies for advanced soft tissue sarcoma. Both of these trials’ designs were informed by phase II data that guided the selection of sensitive STS diagnoses, enabling the demonstration of benefit in certain subtypes. A number of other phase III trials reported in the last 18 months have seemingly fit into a recurrent pattern of failure—promising efficacy signals in earlier phase studies being lost in the survival follow-up of large, highly heterogeneous cohorts. Greater effort is needed to identify histological and molecularly defined subgroups associated with differential treatment response in order to avoid the tremendous disappointment and loss of resources associated with a failed phase III trial. Additionally, improvements in available treatment of advanced STS have underpinned a prolongation in overall survival (OS). Consequently, surrogate efficacy endpoints are of increasing importance to STS drug trials. Whilst progression-free survival (PFS) should arguably replace overall survival as the primary endpoint of choice in first-line studies, more work is required to provide definitive validation of surrogacy, as well as developing more sophisticated techniques of assessing radiological response and expanding the inclusion of quality-of-life-related endpoints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalCurrent treatment options in oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical trial design
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Systemic therapy
  • Trial endpoints

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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