Dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma: The role of chemotherapy with updated outcomes

Ian D. Dickey, Peter S. Rose, Bruno Fuchs, Lester E. Wold, Scott H. Okuno, Franklin H. Sim, Sean P. Scully

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129 Scopus citations


Background: There are very few published data on the survival of patients with dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma, or, more specifically, on the efficacy and role of chemotherapy, especially in the era of modern diagnostic and treatment modalities. The current study examines the influence of advancements in imaging and chemotherapy on outcome and serves as an extension to a previous study published in 1986. Methods: Forty-two patients with dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma who had presented to our institution between 1986 and 2000 were identified, and a retrospective chart review was performed. The study group included twenty-four men and eighteen women with an average age of sixty-six years. The diagnosis of dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma was verified histologically, and data on treatment, adjuvant therapy, and survival were obtained from the medical records of all patients. All patients had been followed for a minimum of twenty-four months. Results: The tumors were classified, according to the system of the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society, as grade IIA (five), grade IIB (twenty-six), and grade III (eleven). Three patients underwent biopsy only, eighteen had a limb-sacrificing procedure, and twenty-one had a limb-sparing procedure. In the group of patients who underwent resection, the surgical margins were classified as intralesional in three, marginal in two, wide in nineteen, and radical in fifteen. Twenty-seven patients received neoadjuvant therapy; of these, twenty-three received chemotherapy only, two received radiotherapy only, and two received combined therapy. The median survival time was 7.5 months, and the five-year rate of disease-free survival was 7.1%. With the numbers available, there was no significant difference in the rate of disease-free survival with respect to the use of chemotherapy (p = 0.54), the location of surgical margins (p = 0.14), the histological subtype (p = 0.87), the tumor stage at the time of diagnosis (p = 0.43), the tumor size (p = 0.79), or the performance of limb-sparing as opposed to limb-sacrificing procedures (p = 0.42). Conclusions: Despite advances in diagnostic modalities and adjuvant therapies, dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma continues to carry a poor prognosis. While local control is achieved in the majority of cases, distant disease remains the greatest clinical challenge, developing in 90% of patients. Efforts are needed to continue to encourage earlier diagnosis and to develop effective adjuvant therapies for the control of distant disease. The routine use of current adjuvant chemotherapy and its inherent risks in this population should be reconsidered. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level IV (case series [no, or historical, control group]). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2412-2418
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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