Successful MRFF Grant for STRASS 2 trial

ANZSA Director and specialist surgical oncologist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, A/Prof David Gyorki, together with A/Prof Anne Hamilton and colleagues from Royal Prince Alfred (led by A/Prof Peter Grimison), Princess Alexandra Hospital (led by Prof Andrew Barbour) and ANZSA consumer representative, Julijana Todorovic, successfully received a grant worth almost AUD$1 million from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) under the Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need (RCRDUN) scheme.

The grant is to run the international trial in Australia – “A randomised phase III study of neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery versus surgery alone for patients with High Risk RetroPeritoneal Sarcoma (STRASS 2)”.

Eligible Australian patients with retroperitoneal sarcoma at high risk of recurrence will be able to participate in this randomised controlled trial designed to answer the question of whether preoperative chemotherapy improves outcome for patients. The current standard of care for these patients is surgery alone. However, the risk of recurrence for many of them is 50% or higher.

The purpose of the STRASS 2 trial is to determine whether the administration of chemotherapy before surgery represents a better treatment compared to surgery alone and if the administration of chemotherapy before surgery is safe. It is also to assess whether specific chemotherapy can be used to reduce recurrence risk in a patient with either high-grade leiomyosarcoma or high-grade dedifferentiated liposarcoma. 

It is the first time a trial has studied the role of preoperative chemotherapy specifically in patients with retroperitoneal sarcoma, an anatomical location with unique challenges and disease patterns.

To further improve outcomes in these patients, Prof Michael Hofman will help lead a substudy investigating the role of PET scans in patients enrolled in the trial. Dr Prunella Blinman will lead an important substudy looking at patient preferences and decision making in deciding whether to have chemotherapy. These further investigations will provide critical insights to help better interpret the trial’s results.

The trial is being led by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and has participation from Europe, Canada, USA and now Australia.

With aims to recruit 40 Australian patients, the STRASS 2 trial will open at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (VIC) as the lead site, with A/Prof Hamilton as the lead oncologist on the trial. The trial will also open at Royal Prince Alfred/Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (NSW) and at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (QLD).

About clinical trial

Please speak to your treating team about this clinical trial to see if you are eligible for it.

Remember that participation in a clinical trial is voluntary and that you should never feel forced to participate in it.

Before you agree to participate in a clinical trial, it is important to be as informed as possible. It can be helpful to write down questions you have before seeing your doctor.

Here are some questions that could be useful to you.