• soft tissue sarcoma;
  • radiation therapy;
  • unplanned excision;
  • re-excision;
  • radiotherapy complications;
  • local control


Background and Purpose

For soft tissue sarcomas (STS), some patients undergo an “unplanned surgery,” non-oncologic resection for presumed benign tumor. The treatment of choice, in such cases, is re-excision combined (if indicated) with radiation. However, there are clinical situations when treatment by radiation alone is recommended. Here results of such an approach are assessed.

Materials and Methods

Seventy-eight patients irradiated after unplanned surgery between 1970 and 1997 were identified from the MGH institutional database. Surgical margins were inevaluable in 50 (64%) and 28 (36%) had positive margins. Tumor characteristics: location, lower extremity (63%), upper extremity (27%), other (10%); median tumor size, 5 cm; grade—G1 (19%), G2 (49%), G3 (32%); AJCC stage (2002)—I (19%), II (54%), III (27%). Median radiation dose given was 66 Gy (range: 51–88).


With a median follow-up of 10 years, estimated local control rate was 88% and 86% at 5 and 10 years, respectively. Distant control rate was 80% at 5 and 10 years. Depth in the relation to the fascia, tumor size, and AJCC stage significantly influenced local recurrence- and distant metastasis-free survival. Ten major radiotherapy complications occurred from 1 to 21 years after treatment.


Despite convincing data about the necessity for re-excision after unplanned surgery for STS, these results demonstrate that radiation therapy alone can be an effective alternate for those patients in whom functional or medical considerations preclude further surgery. The risk for potential radiation therapy complications, however, must also be considered in the treatment decision. J. Surg. Oncol. 2005;92:39–45. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.