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Radiother Oncol. 2009 Nov;93(2):383-7. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2009.06.009. Epub 2009 Jul 1.

Ewing's sarcoma family tumors of the humerus: outcome of patients treated with radiotherapy, surgery or surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Chemotherapy, Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Italy.



Local treatment for non-metastatic Ewing's sarcoma family tumors (ESFTs) is controversial. Results achieved in a single institution in patients with ESFT of the humerus are presented.


Patients treated between 1983 and 2000 for ESFT of the humerus were included. The impact of local treatment (surgery, radiotherapy or both) on outcome was assessed.


55 patients: 34 males (62%); 21 females (38%); mean age: 17.9 (range: 3-40). Local treatment: surgery in 27 patients (49%), radiotherapy in 17 (31%) and surgery followed by radiotherapy in 11 (20%). After a mean follow-up of 15 years (range: 7-25 years), 27 patients (49%) remained continuously disease free, 27 (49%) relapsed and one died of chemotherapy toxicity. The local recurrence rate was 13% overall: 18% (3/17) after radiotherapy, 7% (2/27) after surgery and 19% (2/11) after surgery followed by adjuvant radiotherapy (p=ns). On the contrary, the 10-year EFS resulted significantly higher after surgery (64%) than radiotherapy (18%, p<0.01). The 10-year EFS after surgery followed by radiotherapy was 45%, non-significantly different from EFS of surgery or radiotherapy alone. The 3 treatment groups had a similar distribution of the most important prognostic variables for ESFT, except for the tumor-bone ratio, which was higher for patients who underwent radiotherapy, and surgical margins, more frequently inadequate in patients treated with a combination of radiotherapy and surgery compared to those managed by surgery alone.


In conclusion this study shows that in EFST of the humerus surgery is the best treatment for small tumors. Large tumors are probably best treated with surgery too, as long as good functional results and quality of life can be expected, and adequate surgical margins are achievable. Postoperative radiotherapy is mandatory when margins are inadequate. A high local control rate, of more than 80%, can be obtained also by means of radiotherapy alone.

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