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Cancer. 2003 Oct 1;98(7):1483-90.

Isolated limb perfusion with tumor necrosis factor-alpha and melphalan for patients with unresectable soft tissue sarcoma of the extremities.

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Department of Surgery, The Netherlands Cancer Institute/Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Since 1992, isolated limb perfusion (ILP) with tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) and melphalan has been used for the treatment of patients with unresectable soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities. The authors retrospectively studied the results of limb salvage surgery using TNFalpha-ILP at their institution.


From 1992 to 2001, 49 patients (mean age, 51 years; range, 14-85 years) underwent ILP for unresectable soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities. All patients received melphalan and TNFalpha (four patients also received interferon-gamma). The median follow-up was 26 months (range, from 2 days to 103 months).


In 1 patient (2%) who died 2 days after undergoing ILP, response and acute limb toxicity could not be assessed. One patient (2%) attained a clinical complete response (2%), 23 patients (47%) attained a clinical partial response, 17 patients (35%) demonstrated no change, and 7 patients (14%) had tumor progression. Thirty-one patients (63%) underwent tumor resection. Histologic material also was available from eight amputations and three punctures/biopsies. Pathologic response was complete in 4 patients (8%), partial in 14 patients (29%), and no change was observed in 24 patients (49%). Final response, based on both clinical and pathologic assessment in which pathology was decisive, was complete in 4 patients (8%) and partial in 27 patients (55%), resulting in a final overall response rate of 63%. Local control with preservation of the limb was attained in 28 patients (57%). Four of 32 patients (13%) who had been rendered tumor free by ILP with or without undergoing resection and radiation therapy, developed a local recurrence. The 5-year disease specific survival rate was 48% for the 49 patients. Acute limb toxicity after ILP was a mild Grade 1-2 reaction in 35 patients (71%) patients, a Grade 3 reaction in 12 patients (25%), and a Grade 4 reaction in 1 patient (2%). Three major ILP-related complications were encountered, including arterial thrombosis in two patients and a fulminant Clostridial infection leading to death in one patient. There were no severe cardiovascular reactions after ILP.


In patients with unresectable soft tissue sarcomas of the limbs who underwent ILP with TNFalpha and melphalan followed by resection of the tumor remnant when possible, a 63% overall tumor response rate and a 57% local control rate with limb preservation was achieved.

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