Soft tissue sarcomas of the popliteal fossa: outcome and risk factors

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2007 May;33(4):512-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2006.11.009. Epub 2006 Dec 15.


Background: Limb salvage surgery of popliteal soft tissue sarcomas may be hampered due to the incomplete anatomical containment of this region and the vicinity of neurovascular structures. The scope of this study was to determine outcome and to define risk factors.

Patients and methods: 27 patients (53.3+/-15.8 y; 16/27 male) with popliteal soft tissue sarcomas were assessed. Mean follow-up was 40.9+/-33.8 months (48.5+/-36.7 months in surviving patients). 9/27 patients were included after prior treatment elsewhere (5 after intralesional resections and 4 local recurrences). The lesions were staged IB in 8/27 patients, IIB in 17/27 and III in 2/27. Immediate amputations were performed in 7/27 patients. 15/27 patients were subjected to radiation therapy (preoperative in 6/15 cases), 8/27 patients received chemotherapy (5/8 preoperatively).

Results: Overall survival and disease-free survival at 5 y was 63.0% and 59.5%. Local recurrence occurred in 2 patients. 8/27 patients developed metastatic disease after 28.9+/-9.8 months. Survival (p=0.397) and disease-free survival (p=0.113) did not differ in patients after amputations vs limb salvage. Application of radiation therapy was associated with a better survival (p=0.003). Complications related to the surgical intervention were recorded in 2/27 patients, complications related to radiation therapy occurred in 6/15 patients.

Discussion: Despite being extra-compartmental, popliteal sarcomas can be treated with a high rate of limb salvage while equal safety compared to amputations is maintained. Irradiation improved survival in our patient population. In cases with involvement of neurovascular structures, preoperative down-staging with radio or chemo-therapy may prevent amputation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amputation, Surgical
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg*
  • Limb Salvage / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcoma / surgery*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome