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Ann Surg. 1992 Mar;215(3):269-75.

Comparison of amputation with limb-sparing operations for adult soft tissue sarcoma of the extremity.

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Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021.


The use of amputation in extremity soft tissue sarcoma has been decreasing at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) over the last 15 years. In an attempt to define the efficacy and future role of amputation in extremity soft tissue sarcoma, a prospective sarcoma database compiled at MSKCC from July 1982 to January 1990, consisting of 649 patients, was analyzed in a retrospective fashion. Ninety-two patients underwent amputation, and 557 had a limb-sparing procedure. Patients selected for amputation were those who had large (T greater than or equal to 5 cm) high-grade tumors that invaded major vascular or nervous structures. The amputation group achieved significantly better local control than the limb-sparing group (p = 0.007). No survival benefit could be demonstrated, however, in the groups selected for amputation (i.e., large, high-grade tumors) when compared with patients undergoing a limb-sparing procedure with similar tumors. Prevention of local recurrence by amputation also did not improve survival in this group compared with similar patients undergoing limb-sparing surgery who did develop a local recurrence. The group of patients with high-grade tumors 10 cm or larger who received chemotherapy did have a significant improvement in survival (p = 0.01) compared with a similar group of patients who did not receive chemotherapy, regardless of the type of operation. The prognosis of patients most likely to undergo an amputation for extremity soft tissue sarcoma (those with high-grade, large tumors) is not related to their local disease, but rather to the risk of distant metastases. Therefore, amputation in this cohort of patients can be recommended only when a limb-sparing procedure cannot achieve gross resection of tumor while still preserving a useful extremity, because amputation improves only local control and does not address distant disease. Further improvement in survival in this group of patients will be dependent on better systemic treatment for extremity soft tissue sarcoma, and not on more radical surgery.

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