Current treatment of osteosarcoma

Cancer Invest. 2001;19(3):292-315. doi: 10.1081/cnv-100102557.


A comprehensive multidisciplinary approach has transformed osteosarcoma from a disease with a modest long-term survival to one in which at least two-thirds of patients will be cured. Surgery remains the vital modality for treating the primary tumor, whereas adjuvant chemotherapy plays an essential role in the control of subclinical metastatic disease. Complete surgical excision of the primary tumor remains an essential element of treatment. For many patients, a combination of advances in surgical technique, improved imaging modalities to accurately document tumor extent, and the effect of neoadjuvant chemotherapy has made limb salvage procedures a safe alternative to amputation. In some patients for whom complete surgical excision is impossible, the addition of radiation therapy may allow local tumor control. The most effective chemotherapy agents currently in use include high-dose methotrexate, doxorubicin, cisplatin, and ifosfamide/etoposide. The optimal schedule of therapy is still being investigated, as is the role of dose intensification. Unfortunately, some groups of patients remain at high risk of eventual relapse. Those whose tumors show relatively low degrees of necrosis after administration of chemotherapy have poorer survival than patients with more chemotherapy-responsive tumors. Similarly, patients who present with overt metastatic disease (particularly bone metastases), as well as patients with tumors that recur after treatment, continue to have an unsatisfactory outcome. These groups, in particular, may benefit from future investigations into novel agents, such as biological response modifiers, antiangiogenesis factors, and growth receptor modulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / surgery
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Osteosarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Osteosarcoma / surgery
  • Prognosis


  • Immunologic Factors