• soft-tissue sarcomas;
  • wound complications;
  • fractures;
  • radiation



Correlations between various patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics and complications in patients undergoing combined modality treatment for primary lower extremity soft-tissue sarcomas were investigated.


Using the M. D. Anderson Radiation Oncology database, the records of the subset of patients treated with combined radiation and limb-sparing surgery for primary lower extremity soft-tissue sarcomas were retrospectively reviewed from the years 1960 to 2003.


In all, 412 patients were identified. With a median follow-up of 9.3 years, there were a total of 113 (27%) acute wound complications and 41 (13% at 20 years) chronic radiation-related limb complications. Preoperative radiation and tumor sizes >5 cm were associated with an increased risk of acute wound complications (34% preoperative vs. 16% postoperative, P < .001; and 31% >5 cm vs. 17% ≤5 cm, P = .005). At 20 years the radiation-related complication rate was higher in patients with a groin or thigh tumor location (16% vs. 4% other; P = .008), prior acute wound complications (20% vs. 10% no surgical complication), and a radiation dose ≥60 grays (Gy) (18% vs. 9% for dose < 60 Gy; P = .04). Five fractures occurred, resulting in a crude overall fracture rate of 1.2%.


Patients treated with preoperative radiation for larger tumors are more likely to have acute surgical wound complications. Acute wound complications followed by postoperative radiation are associated with chronic radiation-related limb problems, as are higher radiation dose and proximal tumor location. The fracture rate is so low that prophylactic fixation is not warranted. Cancer 2006. © 2006 American Cancer Society.