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Prognostic Factors


Osteosarcoma in extraskeletal sites is rare in children and young adults. With current combined-modality therapy, the outcome for patients with extraskeletal osteosarcoma appears to be similar to that for patients with primary tumors of bone.[14]

Tumor Size

Larger tumors have a worse prognosis than smaller tumors. Tumor size has been assessed by the longest single dimension, by the cross-sectional area, or by an estimate of tumor volume; all have correlated with outcome. Serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), which also correlates with outcome, is a likely surrogate for tumor volume.

Presence of Clinically Detectable Metastatic Disease

Patients with localized disease have a much better prognosis than those with overt metastatic disease. As many as 20% of patients will have radiographically detectable metastases at diagnosis, with the lung being the most common site.[15] The prognosis for patients with metastatic disease appears to be determined largely by the site(s), the number of metastases, and the surgical resectability of the metastatic disease.[16,17] Patients who have complete surgical ablation of the primary and metastatic tumor (when confined to the lung) following chemotherapy may attain long-term survival, though overall event-free survival remains about 20% to 30% for patients with metastatic disease at diagnosis.[16,17,18,19] Prognosis appears more favorable for patients with fewer pulmonary nodules and for those with unilateral rather than bilateral pulmonary metastases;[16] not all patients with suspected pulmonary metastases at diagnosis have osteosarcoma confirmed at the time of lung resection. In one large series, approximately 25% of patients had exclusively benign lesions removed at the time of surgery.[17] The degree of necrosis in the primary tumor after induction chemotherapy remains prognostic in metastatic osteosarcoma.[20] Patients with skip metastases (at least two discontinuous lesions in the same bone) have been reported to have inferior prognoses.[21] Analysis of the German Cooperative Osteosarcoma Study experience, however, suggests that skip lesions in the same bone do not confer an inferior prognosis if they are included in planned surgical resection. Skip lesions across a joint have a worse prognosis.[22] Patients with multifocal osteosarcoma (defined as multiple bone lesions without a clear primary tumor) have an extremely poor prognosis.[23]

Adequacy of Tumor Resection

Resectability of the tumor is a critical prognostic feature because osteosarcoma is relatively resistant to radiation therapy. Complete resection of the primary tumor and any skip lesions with adequate margins is generally considered essential for cure. For patients with axial skeletal primaries who either do not have surgery for their primary tumor or who have surgery resulting in positive margins, radiation therapy may improve survival.[2,24]

Necrosis Following Induction or Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy

Most treatment protocols for osteosarcoma use an initial period of systemic chemotherapy prior to definitive resection of the primary tumor (or resection of sites of metastases for patients with metastatic disease). The pathologist assesses necrosis in the resected tumor. Patients with at least 90% [25] necrosis in the primary tumor after induction chemotherapy have a better prognosis than those with less necrosis.[25] Patients with less necrosis (<90%) in the primary tumor following initial chemotherapy have a higher rate of recurrence within the first 2 years compared with patients with a more favorable amount of necrosis (?90%).[26] Imaging modalities such as dynamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) scanning are under investigation as noninvasive methods to assess response.[27,28,29,30,31] Less necrosis should not be interpreted to mean that chemotherapy has been ineffective; cure rates for patients with little or no necrosis following induction chemotherapy are much higher than cure rates for patients who receive no chemotherapy.


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 16, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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