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The management of patients with uterine sarcoma: a debated clinical challenge.

Uterine sarcomas include a heterogeneous group of rare tumours that usually have an aggressive clinical behaviour and a poor prognosis. Total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy represents the standard surgical treatment. Pelvic and/or para-aortic lymphadenectomy is indicated for carcinosarcoma, but not for leiomyosarcoma and undifferentiated endometrial sarcoma. Some recent data on low numbers of patients with low-grade endometrial stromal sarcoma appear to show an incidence of nodal involvement higher than previously expected, thus suggesting a role for lymphadenectomy in this malignancy. Carcinosarcoma also requires a comprehensive surgical peritoneal staging. Postoperative treatment of uterine sarcomas has been long debated. Adjuvant pelvic radiotherapy appears to improve local control without any significant impact on overall survival. There is little evidence in the literature supporting the use of adjuvant chemotherapy in any gynaecological sarcomas except for carcinosarcomas. However, uterine sarcomas have a high tendency to develop distant recurrences, and recent data on adjuvant chemotherapy in soft tissue sarcomas are promising. As for the drugs to be used, it is worth noting that in a Swiss study, the combination of ifosfamide (IFO) and doxorubicin (DOX) obtained similar response rates in advanced gynaecological sarcomas and in advanced soft tissue sarcomas of other sites. In our decision-making scheme for early-stage disease, patients with leiomyosarcoma or undifferentiated endometrial sarcoma should receive adjuvant doxorubicin/epidoxorubicin (EPIDX)+ifosfamide, and those with carcinosarcoma should be treated with adjuvant cisplatin (CDDP)-based chemotherapy. The same drug regimens are used for the treatment of advanced disease. Sequential pelvic radiotherapy following chemotherapy could be delivered to selected cases. Recurrent disease often requires the integration of different therapeutic modalities, but no curative option is currently available with the possible exception of surgery for lung metastases and hormone therapy with or without debulking surgery for recurrent low-grade endometrial stromal sarcoma. Patients should be encouraged to enter clinical trials designed to identify new active drugs for these malignancies.

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