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Cancer. 2000 May 1;88(9):2172-80.

Bone sarcomas of the head and neck in children: the St Jude Children's Research Hospital experience.

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  • 1Department of Hematology-Oncology, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38105-2794, USA.



Bone sarcomas of the head and neck are difficult to resect. The authors reviewed their institutional experience with these tumors to characterize patients' clinical findings and to assess the impact of surgical resection on outcome.


The records of the 28 patients with bone sarcomas originating in the head and neck treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital between March 1962 and January 1998 were reviewed.


There were 10 males and 18 females (median age, 12.6 years) each with a single sarcoma: osteosarcoma (18), Ewing sarcoma (7), malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) (2), and fibrosarcoma (1). Primary tumor sites included the maxilla (13), skull (10), mandible (2), and other sites (3). All but one patient with Ewing sarcoma had localized disease at the time of diagnosis. All patients underwent surgery: complete resection, 8; gross total resection, 4; incomplete resection, 14; and biopsy only, 2; 22 also received chemotherapy. Radiotherapy was given to all patients with Ewing sarcoma and to four patients with primary osteosarcoma. Twelve patients survived a median of 8.4 years after diagnosis, 14 died of disease, and 2 died of unrelated causes. Local disease progression was evident in 12 patients (9 with osteosarcoma, 2 with MFH, and 1 with Ewing sarcoma) who died of disease, 9 of whom had the initial treatment of biopsy alone or incomplete resection. Patients with osteosarcoma who had the initial treatment of incomplete resection or biopsy alone were more likely to experience local failure (P = 0.001) and had poorer survival (P = 0.014) than those who underwent complete or gross total resection.


Bone sarcomas of the head and neck are rare among children and most often are localized at the time of diagnosis. Incomplete resection of osteosarcoma is associated with local failure and poor outcome. Although aggressive surgery is essential for the cure of osteosarcoma, its necessity in the treatment of Ewing sarcomas remains controversial.

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