An update on chemotherapy for osteosarcoma

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2015;16(18):2727-36. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2015.1102226. Epub 2015 Oct 29.


Introduction: In the early seventies chemotherapy significantly improved survival in osteosarcoma. Since then minor innovations have occurred although recent years have offered insights of clinical and scientific relevance.

Areas covered: This review focuses on the most recent results of phase 3 and 2 studies. Published data or presentations at International meetings are discussed. A specific section discusses recent insights from studies supporting the hypothesis of a possible personalized chemotherapy approach.

Expert opinion: Osteosarcoma is a rare tumor and any effort should be made to improve the level of International collaboration. The MAP (methotrexate, doxorubicin and cisplatin) regimen has become the treatment of choice. Poor pathological response to primary chemotherapy is confirmed as a predictive factor of survival and, presently with the available drugs, it is not recommended to intensify or change post-operative treatment on the basis of pathological response to primary chemotherapy. The genomic complexity and the heterogeneity of osteosarcoma makes active and effective molecularly targeted therapies unlikely to be available in the near future. A relation between pharmacogenetic profile and chemotherapy toxicity and prognosis has been reported. The new frontier for clinical research in osteosarcoma is to optimize the use of the active drugs available by personalizing chemotherapy treatment.

Keywords: cisplatin; doxorubicin; ifosfamide; methotrexate; mifamurtide; neoadjuvant chemotherapy; osteosarcoma; pharmacogenetics; prognostic factors; salvage chemotherapy; tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / genetics
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Etoposide / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Ifosfamide / administration & dosage
  • Methotrexate / administration & dosage
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Osteosarcoma / diagnosis
  • Osteosarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Osteosarcoma / genetics
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Etoposide
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cisplatin
  • Ifosfamide
  • Methotrexate