Pathologic fracture in osteosarcoma. Impact of chemotherapy on primary tumor and survival
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Twenty patients with osteosarcoma and pathologic fractures were treated with a chemotherapeutic regimen consisting of cis-diamminedichloroplatinum-II (CDP), Adriamycin (ADR) (doxorubicin) and high-dose methotrexate with citrovorum factor "rescue" (MTX-CF). Before the introduction of the regimen, the primary tumor in two patients was treated by immediate amputation and in 13 with preoperative intra-arterial CDP. Among these 13 patients, responses (healing) were observed in 11 (one required the addition of radiation therapy). In three patients, the responses were so dramatic that, at their request, surgery was deferred and treatment exclusively with chemotherapy was instituted. Based on this experience, treatment exclusively with chemotherapy was also administered to an additional five patients who were admitted without pathologic fractures. In the course of such treatment, pathologic fractures also developed; notwithstanding, chemotherapy was maintained and healing also occurred. One of the 20 patients had pulmonary metastases at diagnosis; these were resected after treatment and pathologic examination revealed no evidence of viable tumor. The remaining 19 patients were free of pulmonary metastases but these later developed in seven patients. These data were compared to a historical control series in which 16 of 21 patients with pathologic fractures developed pulmonary metastases. Three of the chemotherapy treated patients died of nonosteosarcoma related causes (leukemia, generalized varicella, and a metabolic complication). Overall, survival was improved in the chemotherapy treated patients as compared to the historical control series: 10 of 20 versus 6 of 21, respectively. Pathologic fractures in osteosarcoma may heal under treatment with chemotherapy, which also has a favorable impact on the eradication of pulmonary metastases and survival.