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Survival after recurrence of osteosarcoma: A 20-year experience at a single institution




Approximately one-third of patients with osteosarcoma who have a complete response to their initial treatment can be expected to relapse. It is important to define what host, tumor, or treatment characteristics determine outcome after relapse. We present findings in 59 patients treated at our institution from 1974 to 1996 who have relapsed one or more times after their initial response.


Host and tumor characteristics at diagnosis and relapse, therapeutic interventions and survival outcomes were determined from examination of medical records and a follow-up questionnaire.


Of the 59 patients, 37 initially presented with localized disease of the extremity, 11 with localized non-extremity disease, and 11 with metastatic disease. This report focuses on those with localized disease of the extremity. For these patients, median time from original diagnosis to first recurrence was 14 months. Median survival after first recurrence was 31 months. The median post initial relapse survival was the same for patients whose first relapse occurred before or after 14 months from original diagnosis. Seventeen of 29 patients with systemic metastasis at first recurrence had complete removal of their disease and had a median post-op survival of 2.5 years, while the remaining 12 patients with no surgery, had a median survival of 2 years. Of the 37 patients who presented with primary disease only in the extremities and relapsed: 31 died (2 more than 6 years from first recurrence) and 6 are alive from 6 to 24 years from first recurrence (5 without disease and 1 with disease). Three of the five disease-free survivors had three or more relapses.


With a long follow-up time, we found 15% of patients with relapsed osteosarcoma who originally presented with localized disease in the extremity are alive with no evidence of disease at 10 years from first recurrence (Kaplan–Meier estimate). Even patients with multiple relapses may have long-term disease-free survival after salvage therapy. Chemotherapy and time to first recurrence were unrelated to survival after relapse in this study. Complete surgical removal of metastatic disease may be important for long-term survival. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2006;47:255–259. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.