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J Clin Oncol. 2002 Nov 15;20(22):4472-7.

Function and health status outcomes in a randomized trial comparing preoperative and postoperative radiotherapy in extremity soft tissue sarcoma.

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  • 1Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Morbidity associated with wound complications may translate into disability and quality-of-life disadvantages for patients treated with radiotherapy (RT) for soft tissue sarcoma (STS) of the extremities. Functional outcome and health status of extremity STS patients randomized in a phase III trial comparing preoperative versus postoperative RT is described.


One hundred ninety patients with extremity STS were randomized after stratification by tumor size dichotomized at 10 cm. Function and quality of life were measured by the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society Rating Scale (MSTS), the Toronto Extremity Salvage Score (TESS), and the Short Form-36 (SF-36) at randomization, 6 weeks, and 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after surgery.


One hundred eighty-five patients had function data. Patients treated with postoperative RT had better function with higher MSTS (25.8 v 21.3, P <.01), TESS (69.8 v 60.6, P =.01), and SF-36 bodily pain (67.7 v 58.5, P =.03) scores at 6 weeks after surgery. There were no differences at later time points. Scores on the physical function, role-physical, and general health subscales of the SF-36 were significantly lower than Canadian normative data at all time points. After treatment arm was controlled for, MSTS change scores were predicted by a lower-extremity tumor, a large resection specimen, and motor nerve sacrifice; TESS change scores were predicted by lower-extremity tumor and prior incomplete excision. When wound complication was included in the model, patients with complications had lower MSTS and TESS scores in the first 2 years after treatment.


The timing of RT has minimal impact on the function of STS patients in the first year after surgery. Tumor characteristics and wound complications have a detrimental effect on patient function.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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