What Is the Success of Repeat Surgical Treatment of a Local Recurrence After Initial Wide Resection of Soft Tissue Sarcomas?

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Treatment for patients with locally recurrent soft tissue sarcomas after wide resection is challenging, and few studies have examined the results of treating these patients. In treatment of recurrent tumors, it has been reported that positive margins are correlated to local rerecurrence, but the relationship between surgical margin and survival remains controversial and risk factors for local recurrences after wide resection of soft tissue sarcomas are not well established. This study examined clinical outcomes and factors associated with survival and local rerecurrence in patients with local recurrence after initial surgical treatment who underwent another resection with a goal of negative margins.


The purpose of this study was to determine (1) oncologic outcomes (survival rates and local rerecurrence-free rates) of surgical treatment for patients with local recurrence after wide resection; (2) whether factors associated with survival and local rerecurrence-free rates can be determined; and (3) the proportion of patients treated by amputation at final followup.


Between 1992 and 2013, we treated 530 patients with soft tissue sarcoma without metastasis. Of those, 26 (5%) were lost before 3 years of followup but were not known to have died. Of the remainder, 59 have had a local recurrence. Of those with a local recurrence, 34 (58%) were treated with wide resection, whereas 25 (42%) were treated with nonsurgical treatment including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. During that period, our general indications for wide resection were patients (1) without distant metastasis; or (2) without distant lymph node metastasis, and contraindications were distant organ metastasis and/or distant lymph node metastasis. Of those treated with wide resection, 30 (88%) were available for followup. We conducted a retrospective analysis of these 30 patients with local recurrence (17 men, 13 women) who had previously undergone wide resection. Patient followup ranged from 1 to 12 years (median, 5 years). Survivorship (including overall survival and survival free from repeat recurrence) was ascertained by the Kaplan-Meier method. Factors associated with survival were evaluated by the log-rank test. Amputations were performed when limb-sparing surgery was deemed unsuitable because of extensive involvement of the limb by tumor, including invasion of multiple muscle compartments and neurovascular components. Survivorship free from amputation was ascertained by the Kaplan-Meier method.


Overall 5- and 10-year Kaplan-Meier survival rates after resection were 70% (95% confidence interval [CI], 50%-91%) and 44% (95% CI, 12%-76%), respectively, and 12 patients (40%) developed distant metastases after the second operation. Ten patients (33%) had additional local recurrences, and overall 5- and 10-year local rerecurrence-free rates were 66% (95% CI, 48%-85%) and 50% (95% CI, 18%-81%), respectively. A positive margin was associated with further recurrence (5-year local rerecurrence-free rates of positive margin: 20% [95% CI, 0%-52%], negative margin: 89% [95% CI, 74%-100%], p < 0.01) and with survival (5-year survival rates of positive margin: 36% [95% CI, 0%-75%], negative margin: 91% [95% CI, 74%-100%], p < 0.01). The survival rate was lower in patients with recurrence developing after 2 years (5-year survival rates of within 2 years: 46% [95% CI, 2%-90%], after 2 years: 83% [95% CI, 62%-100%], p = 0.01). The overall 5- and 10-year amputation-free rates were 86% (95% CI, 74%-99%) and 81% (95% CI, 67%-96%), respectively.


A surgical procedure with negative margins appears to be important for reducing the likelihood of local recurrences and improving survival of patients with rerecurrence after wide resection of soft tissue sarcomas. Although these findings need to be confirmed in larger studies, it appears that when tumor recurrence is evident within 2 years from the primary surgery, it is associated with a poor prognosis. Local recurrence within 2 years after wide resection may also be an indicator of aggressive tumor biology.

Level of Evidence

Level IV, therapeutic study.

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