Purpose: To analyze the results of therapy for malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) and to identify prognostic factors of survival, and of local and distant control of disease.
Methods and materials: From 1975 through 1993, 134 MPNSTs were diagnosed and treated at our institution. Tumor sites included extremities in 36 (27%) cases and non-extremities in 98 (73%). Median follow-up for survivors was 53 months (range: 7-280). There were 14 tumors of histologic grade I disease (10%), 43 of grade II disease (32%), 43 of grade III disease (32%), and 32 of grade IV (24%). Seventy-three patients (54%) underwent radiation therapy (RT) as part of their initial treatment of the primary tumor, including 14 (10%) who had brachytherapy and 16 (12%) who had intraoperative electron irradiation (IOERT) as part of their radiation course.
Results: The 5- and 10-year survival rates were 52% and 34%, respectively. Local and distant failure rates at 5 years were both 49%. On univariate analysis, prognostic factors significantly related to survival (log-rank: p < 0.05) included tumor size, location of disease, history of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1), history of prior irradiation, surgical margin status, use of IOERT or brachytherapy, disease stage, histologic grade and tumor subtype, as well as mitotic rate and the presence or absence of necrosis. On multivariate analysis, only history of prior irradiation (p = 0.023), and surgical margin status (p = 0.0044) remained significant. For local control of disease, univariate analysis showed location of disease, surgical margin status, history of NF-1, history of prior irradiation, mitotic rate, radiation dose > or = 60 Gy, and use of IOERT or brachytherapy to be significant prognostic factors. On multivariate analysis, only surgical margin status (p = 0.0024), RT dose (p = 0.021), and use of IOERT or brachytherapy (p = 0.016) remained significant. For distant control of disease, significant prognostic factors on univariate analysis included tumor size, stage, tumor grade, mitotic rate, presence or absence of necrosis, and histologic subtype. On multivariate analysis, tumor size (p = 0.0065), grade (p = 0.036), and histologic subtype (p = 0.001) remained significant. Patients with perineurial MPNSTs had a much lower rate of distant metastasis and a better overall survival as compared with other histologic subtypes.
Conclusion: Management of patients with MPNST involves a multi-modality approach. The goal of surgery is complete resection with negative margins. Adjuvant irradiation to doses > or = 60 Gy and the inclusion of IOERT or brachytherapy are associated with improved local control of disease.