Primary osteogenic sarcoma: the rationale for preoperative chemotherapy and delayed surgery

Cancer. 1979 Jun;43(6):2163-77. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(197906)43:6<2163::aid-cncr2820430602>;2-s.


From 1973--1975, 31 patients with biopsied primary osteogenic sarcoma were treated with preoperative chemotherapy followed by surgical ablation of the primary tumor. Surgery was delayed in order to obtain a custom-fitted prosthetic bone implant in an attempt to avoid amputation. Preoperative chemotherapy included high dose methotrexate (HDMTX) with citrovorum factor rescue (CFR) and adriamycin (T-5 protocol) and was administered for 3 months preoperatively and continued with the inclusion of cyclophosphamide for approximately 5 months postoperatively. At a follow-up period of 30--52 months, 23 of 31 patients (75%) are surviving (21 of 23 with no evidence of disease). Histologic examination of primary tumor removed at surgery revealed varying degrees of tumor destruction (from very little effect to no evidence of viable tumor) attributable to the effect of chemotherapy. The 21 patients that are disease-free survivors had a more complete effect of preoperative chemotherapy on the primary tumor. Some patients achieving favorable effects upon the primary tumor did so only after the dose of HDMTX was escalated to greater than the starting dose of 8 g/m2. Preoperative chemotherapy for all patients with osteogenic sarcoma would seem to offer the following advantages: 1) Evaluation of the effect of HDMTX with CFR on the primary tumor with escalation of the dose of HDMTX until a clinical response is observed, thus defining the dose of HDMTX effective in that patient, to be continued postoperatively as adjuvant therapy; 2) The early use of systemic therapy to eradicate distant microfoci of disease that will eventually kill the patient if not adequately treated by effective chemotherapy; 3) Allow more time for postoperative healing without the need to start adjuvant chemotherapy immediately; and 4) Provide the surgeon time to plan resection surgery. To date, 20 additional patients with biopsy proven osteogenic sarcoma have been treated with more aggressive preoperative chemotherapy (T-7) for approximately 2 1/2 months prior to definitive surgery (resection or amputation). Doses of HDMTX were escalated where necessary and good clinical responses were obtained in 19 of 20 patients. In the majority of patients, no evidence of viable tumor was found on histologic examination of the surgically removed primary tumor. All 20 patients are surviving free of active disease at this brief follow-up period of 4--20 months.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Bleomycin / administration & dosage
  • Bone Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Child
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / administration & dosage
  • Methotrexate / toxicity
  • Osteosarcoma / therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Bleomycin
  • Vincristine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Leucovorin
  • Methotrexate