Limb-sparing surgery without radiotherapy based on anatomic location of soft tissue sarcoma

A. Rydholm, P. Gustafson, B. Rooser, H. Willen, M. Akerman, K. Herrlin, T. Alvegard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From 1980 through 1986, 119 patients with soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities were referred to our tumor center either before surgery (n = 78) or immediately after incisional biopsy or marginal excision (n = 41). The tumors were classified according to anatomic location at admittance as subcutaneous (n = 40), intramuscular (n = 30), and extramuscular tumors (n = 49). Open biopsy was omitted in 75 of the 78 patients referred before surgery; the preoperative diagnosis was based on physical and radiographic findings and fine-needle aspiration cytology. The surgical intention for subcutaneous tumor was to obtain a wide margin, which required a cuff of fat tissue around the tumor and inclusion of the deep fascia beneath the tumor. A wide margin for an intramuscular tumor implied no open biopsy and an unbroken muscle fascia or thick muscle cuff around the tumor (primary myectomy). The 70 patients with subcutaneous and intramuscular tumors were all treated by local surgery. A wide margin was obtained in 56 patients who were not given radiotherapy. During a median follow-up of 5 years (range, 3.5 to 10 years), four of these 56 patients-47 of whom had high-grade malignant tumors-had a local recurrence. We conclude that routine combination of limb-sparing surgery with adjuvant radiotherapy is not necessary in patients with soft tissue sarcoma. Two thirds of soft tissue sarcomas of the extremities are primarily subcutaneous or intramuscular tumors, the majority of which can be treated by local surgery without local adjuvant therapy with a local recurrence rate of less than 10%, irrespective of malignancy grade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1757-1765
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1991 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Surgery


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