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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2009 Aug;91(8):1083-5. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.91B8.21680.

Soft-tissue metastases: their presentation and origin.

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Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Bristol Road South, Birmingham B312AP, UK.


In our database of 7935 patients referred for investigation of a soft-tissue mass, only 100 were found to have a soft-tissue metastasis (1.3%). Our aim was to define the clinical features of such patients and to identify the site of their primary tumour. The most common presentation was a painful lump, deep to the fascia, ranging between 2 cm and 35 cm (mean 8.3 cm) with 78% of the lumps located deep to the fascia. The mean age of the patients at presentation was 64 years (22 to 84) and there were almost equal numbers of men and women. Of 53 patients with a history of malignancy, 52 had metastases from the same primary (lung in 12, melanoma in ten, kidney in nine, gastrointestinal track in four, breast in five, bladder in four, and others in eight). The other 47 had no history of malignancy and the metastasis was the first presentation. The primary sites in these cases were the lung in 19, gastro-intestinal track in four, kidney in two, melanoma in nine, other in three, and unknown (despite investigations) in ten. There was no correlation between the site of the metastases and the primary tumour. Of the 7935 patients, 516 had a history of malignancy. Of these, only 10% had a soft-tissue metastasis, 29% had a benign diagnosis, 55% a soft-tissue sarcoma and 6% another malignancy. Patients with soft-tissue metastases have similar clinical features to those with soft-tissue sarcomas and should be considered for assessment at appropriate diagnostic centres for patients with suspicious soft-tissue lumps.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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