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BMC Vet Res. 2012 May 15;8:56. doi: 10.1186/1746-6148-8-56.

Prognostic factors in canine appendicular osteosarcoma - a meta-analysis.

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Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Appendicular osteosarcoma is the most common malignant primary canine bone tumor. When treated by amputation or tumor removal alone, median survival times (MST) do not exceed 5 months, with the majority of dogs suffering from metastatic disease. This period can be extended with adequate local intervention and adjuvant chemotherapy, which has become common practice. Several prognostic factors have been reported in many different studies, e.g. age, breed, weight, sex, neuter status, location of tumor, serum alkaline phosphatase (SALP), bone alkaline phosphatase (BALP), infection, percentage of bone length affected, histological grade or histological subtype of tumor. Most of these factors are, however, only reported as confounding factors in larger studies. Insight in truly significant prognostic factors at time of diagnosis may contribute to tailoring adjuvant therapy for individual dogs suffering from osteosarcoma. The objective of this study was to systematically review the prognostic factors that are described for canine appendicular osteosarcoma and validate their scientific importance.


A literature review was performed on selected studies and eligible data were extracted. Meta-analyses were done for two of the three selected possible prognostic factors (SALP and location), looking at both survival time (ST) and disease free interval (DFI). The third factor (age) was studied in a qualitative manner. Both elevated SALP level and the (proximal) humerus as location of the primary tumor are significant negative prognostic factors for both ST and DFI in dogs with appendicular osteosarcoma. Increasing age was associated with shorter ST and DFI, however, was not statistically significant because information of this factor was available in only a limited number of papers.


Elevated SALP and proximal humeral location are significant negative prognosticators for canine osteosarcoma.

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