The contribution of salvage surgery to the management of childhood osteosarcoma

U. Pastorino, M. Gasparini, L. Tavecchio, A. Azzarelli, S. Mapelli, V. Zucchi, F. Morandi, F. F. Bellani, M. Valente, G. Ravasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Between January 1970 and December 1988, 174 consecutive patients under the age of 20 years with curatively resected primary osteosarcoma were treated at our institute: 72 in the years 1970 to 1981 and 102 in the years 1982 to 1988. In the latter period, adjuvant chemotherapy was replaced by neoadjuvant programs, and new criteria were adopted for the management of lung metastases, consisting in early bilateral surgical staging and lung resection through median sternotomy for all patients with purely intrathoracic relapse. Follow-up was updated in December 1989. During the last period, the overall 5-year survival improved significantly from 35% to 58% (P <.001). The disease-free survival rose from 38% to 45% at 5 years, with median values of 15 months versus 33 months, while the frequency of isolated lung metastases dropped from 58% to the actuarial 48%. The proportion of patients who underwent complete resections of their pulmonary metastases rose from 17% (seven of 42) to 55% (27 of 49), without operative mortality. Due to such a high proportion of patients eligible for salvage surgery, the overall survival from detection of lung metastases improved from 0% to 28% at 5 years (P <.001). Contralateral occult metastases were resected in three of 15 subjects with monolateral clinical lesions, and five patients underwent subsequent lung resections. These data indicate that systematic bilateral pulmonary resection plays an important role in improving the final cure rate of childhood osteosarcoma, beyond the benefit resulting from neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1362
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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