Fifty tumor necrosis factor-based isolated limb perfusions for limb salvage in patients older than 75 years with limb-threatening soft tissue sarcomas and other extremity tumors

Ann Surg Oncol. Jan-Feb 2003;10(1):32-7. doi: 10.1245/aso.2003.03.076.


Background: Isolated limb perfusion (ILP) with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and melphalan is highly effective in treating limb-threatening soft tissue sarcoma (STS) and other bulky tumors. Because of fear of TNF-associated toxicity, ILP with TNF is not offered to older patients in some cancer centers, although especially in older patients, every attempt to avoid an amputation that may end their independence must be considered.

Methods: Out of 306 TNF-based ILPs, 50 ILPs were performed for limb salvage in 43 patients >75 years old (range, 75-91 years): 29 STS and 14 melanoma patients.

Results: In the STS patients, a response rate of 76% and a limb-salvage rate of 76% were achieved; in the melanoma patients, a 100% response rate and a 93% limb-salvage rate were achieved. Local toxicity was mild. The three postoperative deaths that occurred in the total series of 306 TNF-based ILPs in Rotterdam (<1%) occurred in patients >75 years old after leakage-free perfusions and were not related to TNF but to extremely high-risk profiles in these three patients.

Conclusions: Older patients should not be withheld a TNF-based ILP for limb salvage, because the procedure is safe and highly effective in these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / adverse effects
  • Chemotherapy, Cancer, Regional Perfusion* / adverse effects
  • Extremities*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melphalan / administration & dosage
  • Melphalan / adverse effects
  • Sarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / administration & dosage*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / adverse effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Melphalan