Is limb salvage surgery safe for bone sarcomas identified after a previous surgical procedure?

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Abstract

Bone sarcomas are rare cancers and orthopaedic surgeons come across them infrequently, sometimes unexpectedly during surgical procedures. We investigated the outcomes of patients who underwent a surgical procedure where sarcomas were found unexpectedly and were subsequently referred to our unit for treatment. We identified 95 patients (44 intralesional excisions, 35 fracture fixations, 16 joint replacements) with mean age of 48 years (11 to 83); 60% were males (n = 57). Local recurrence arose in 40% who underwent limb salvage surgeryversus12% who had an amputation. Despite achieving local control, overall survival was worse for patients treated with amputation rather than limb salvage (54%vs75% fiveyear survival). Factors that negatively influenced survival were invasive primary surgery (fracture fixation, joint replacement), a delay of greater than two months until referral to our oncology service, and high-grade tumours. Survival in these circumstances depends mostly on factors that are determined prior to definitive treatment by a tertiary orthopaedic oncology unit. Limb salvage in this group of patients is associated with a higher rate of inadequate marginal surgery and, consequently, higher local recurrence rates than amputation, but should still be attempted whenever possible, as local control is not the primary determinant of survival.

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