May 30, 2024

Management of Musculoskeletal Malignancy is a multidisciplinary action that involves surgical, medical, radiological, and oncological teams.

Metastasis Cells

Principle of Management in Musculoskeletal Malignancy

Principle of management of musculoskeletal malignancy

Proper and Detailed Clinical History

Radiological Diagnosis

  • X-ray
  • CT Chest ( To see for metastasis)
  • MRI ( For Local Staging)
  • Bone Scan (Skeletal Metastasis)
  • PET Scan

Then we reach a clinic-radiological diagnosis of certain Musculoskeletal Malignancy

Histopathological Diagnosis

There are two staging system

  1. AJCC Classification
  2. Enneking Classification

In this staging system, primary malignant lymphoma and multiple myeloma are not included. Management and Prognosis depend upon staging

OsteosarcomaOnly palliation (Unresectable sites)Essential for cure
Ewing Sarcoma– No functional preserving alternatives – If poor responder (+) marginUsually indicated
ChondrosarcomaXXEssential for cure
Soft tissue SarcomaMay beMostly YesEssential for cure

In the rare variant of chondrosarcoma:

  1. Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma: Ewing-like chemotherapy
  2. Dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma: Osteosarcoma like chemotherapy

Limb Salvage Surgery

It consists of 2 Parts

  1. Resection
  2. Reconstruction

Absolute Indication:

If limb function is inferior to amputation and external prosthesis we shouldn’t do limb salvage.

Surgical Margin

Intralesional excision: Within the lesion

Marginal excision: Within reach zone: extracapsular

Wide excision: Beyond reach zone + Standard tissue components

Radical: Normal tissue extra compartmental wide margin

How wide?

Still debatable

  • 2-3 cm in bone
  • At least one healthy muscle margin
  • Barriers like physis, periosteum, thick fascia
  • Focally close/ marginal/ for neurovascular acceptable

How to reconstruct defects?

  1. Endoprosthesis
  2. Bone Graft
  3. Extracorporeal Radiotherapy (Sterilizing tumor)
    1. Liquid N2Pasteurization
    1. Microwave technique
  4. Rotationoplasty
  5. Temporary spacer


Neo-adjuvant Advantages:

  • Potential control of micrometastasis
  • Allow small radiation volume in unresected lesions
  • Enhancement of limb salvage surgery
  • Window time for customization of the endoprosthesis
  • Evaluation of histological response to chemotherapy


  • High tumor burden
  • Some develop drug resistance, which may metastasis
  • Delay in definitive control of bulk disease
  • Increase the chance of systemic dissemination
  • The psychological trauma of retaining a tumor
  • Risk of local tumor progression with loss of a limb-sparing option

Adjuvant Chemotherapy


  • Decrease in tumor burden
  • Decrease the probability of selecting a drug resistance close to the primary tumor


  • Delay in systemic therapy for micrometastasis
  • Non-operative in-vivo assay of cytotoxic response
  • Possible spread of viable tumor

Chemotherapy for Osteosarcoma

Musculoskeletal Malignancy chemotherapy
Chemotherapy for bone tumor

Methotrexate Based Regime


High dose methotrexate


Give Folate and hydrate patient

Non-methotrexate based regime




Toxicity: Permanent sterilization in the male patient


Adriamycin: 25mg/m2 intravenous days (1-3) as a continuous 24-hour infusion

Ifosfamide: 1.8g/m2 intravenous days (1-5) with mesna

Cisplatinium: 100 mg/m2 intravenous days (1-3)

After neoadjuvant Chemotherapy

Excise specimen

The specimen is evaluated for

The margin of surgical resection

Response of chemotherapy is noted based on the percentage necrosis of tumor cells (Huvo’s System)

GradingNecrosis after chemotherapy
Grade 1Necrosis
Grade 20 – 50 % necrosis
Grade 350-99% necrosis
Grade 4100 % necrosis
Huvo’s System

Grade  1 and 2 are poor responders and overall survival is decreased and recurrence is increased

Grade 3 and Grade 4 are good responders

Ewing Sarcoma

Neoadjuvant (VIE, VAC):- Local:-Adjuvant (VIE, VAC, VCD)





Picci Grading

GradeHistological Features
Grade IEvidence of macroscopic foci of viable tumor cells
Grade IIOnly isolated microscopic nodules of viable tumor cells
Grade IIINo nodules of viable tumor cells
Picci Grading

Prognostic Factors

  1. Metastasis: The single most important
    1. Pulmonary
    1. Nodal/ Bony/ Combination ( Worst)
  2. Size of the tumor (> 8 cm  is worst)
  3. Site: Pelvis/ axial tumor carries a poor prognosis
  4. Responders to induction therapy have a good prognosis
  5. Complete surgical removal: Wide/ Radical margins

Role of radiotherapy in Musculoskeletal Malignancy:


Outcome is poor


  • Positive Margins
  • Planned positive surgical margins
  • Marginal surgical resection
  • The huge volume of disease especially in the pelvis
  • Presence of pathological fracture


Skeletal Metastasis is the third most common metastasis site next to lung and liver

After the age of 40 years, every bone tumor is considered metastatic

70 % of breast and prostatic cancer develop bone metastasis

Approximately, 30-65% of patients with metastatic lung cancer, 47 % of advanced thyroid cancer, and 30% of renal cancer develop bone metastasis.


Willi’s definition: Metastasis is secondary growth originating from detached tumor fragments

Unusual for acral metastasis (distal to elbow and Knees)

Mostly seen in primary in lungs or kidney

Trabecular/ Metaphyseal bone is favored for metastasis

Sluggish flow in hairpin bends provides the chance for tumor cells to migrate in

Clinical Features:

Metastatic lesions commonly present with pain ( on weight bearing and relived on rest): Suggest Impending fractures

Skull lesions may be present with a headache

Vertebral involvement: Presents with girdle pain, numbness, and paresthesia, weakness in the lower and upper limbs with/without loss of bladder and bowel control.

Pathological fractures/ Impending fractures without any known history or treatment for cancers: Commonest scenarios

The proximal femur, Proximal humerus are the commonest sites.

Primary is known: the skeletal lesion is picked up in the workshop or during periodic follow-ups.

Imaging Modalities in metastatic Disease:

Traditionally:- Osteolytic, Osteoblastic or mixed lytic and sclerotic

KidneyBMPCentral clear areas of cortical lysis surrounded by an area of increased density (Sclerosis)
LungsBronchial CarcinomaBreast
Uterus Testes

At least 25-75% loss of mineral: before the lesion is visible on X-ray

The extent of destruction on X-ray helps to assess the risk of fracture, the lytic lesion that destroys 50% or more diaphyseal cortex: Can result in a 60-90 % reduction of bone strength: Increase the risk of fracture

Plain X-ray

1989, Mirels: Four Criteria

Mirel’s Criteria:

Location of involved boneUpper limbLower limbPeri-trochanteric
PainMildModeratePain aggravated by function
Type of LesionBlasticMixedLytic
Amount of cortical diameter involved<1/31/3-2/3>2/3
Mirels Criteria

Total maximum score: 12 points

Score <7: No risk of fracture

A score of 9 or more: a 33% risk of fracture

Laboratory diagnosis:

Anemia, thrombocytopenia, thrombocytosis, leucopenia, and eosinophilia

Increase ALP, Increase Serum Calcium

Increase Serum or bone marrow acid phosphate: Prostate Carcinoma

Tumor markers:

Tumor markersTumors
ALK geneNon-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), Anaplastic large cell lymphomas
Alpha-fetoproteins (AFPs)Liver cancer and germ cell tumors
B2 microglobulinsCLL, Multiple Myelomas
BCR-ABL Fusion geneCML
BRAF mutation V600ECutaneous melanoma and colorectal carcinoma
CA 15.3/ CA 27-29Breast Carcinoma
CA 19-9Pancreatic, gall bladder, bile duct cancer
CA 125, HE4Ovarian Cancer
CalcitoninMedullary thyroid cancer
CEAColorectal and breast Cancer
CD 20Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Chromogranin ANeuroendocrine tumors
Cytokeratin 21-1Lung carcinoma
ER PRBreast Carcinoma
Fibrin, Fibrinogen, Chromosome 3,7,17,9p21Bladder Carcinoma
HER 2/neuBreast, Gastric, and Esophageal carcinoma
ImmunoglobulinMultiple myeloma and Walderstrom macroglobulinemia
KITGIST, Mucusal melanoma
KRAS mutational analysisNSCLC, Colorectal
LDHGerm cell tumor
PSAProstate cancer
ThyroglobulinThyroid carcinoma


Must prove that the lesion is metastasis

Needle biopsy: Adequate to diagnose 90% of cases.

See also: Limb Salvage Surgery

See also: Radiograph of Bone Tumor

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