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According to a recent article published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, the surgical removal of cancer spread to the lung significantly improves survival among pediatric patients diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

Osteosarcoma is a cancer that starts in the bone. It is a disease that mainly affects young adults or adolescents. The most common site of cancer origin is in the bones around the knee. At present, patients are grouped according to whether the cancer is localized (has not spread from its site of origin) or metastatic (spread to distant sites in the body).

The lung is a common place for cancer to spread (metastasize) in many types of cancer. More evidence is indicating that the surgical removal of lung metastasis may improve survival in patients who are eligible for surgery. Researchers continue to evaluate which patients may benefit from this type of surgery.

Researchers from the University of Texas and the University of Tennessee recently conducted a study focused on clarifying the benefits of the surgical removal of lung metastasis in patients diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Patients underwent chemotherapy prior to surgery. This study included 137 patients who were under the age of 21 years and treated between 1980 and 2000.

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  • Overall survival among all patients with lung metastasis was 40.2% at 3 years and 22.6% at 5 years.
  • The average survival for patients who underwent the surgical removal of lung metastasis was approximately 34 months, compared to approximately 10 months for those who did not undergo the surgical removal of lung metastasis.
  • No significant differences in survival were noted in regards to the number of lung metastasis that were surgically removed per individual patient.
  • Patients who responded better to chemotherapy and those who were free of cancer longer before they developed lung metastasis had improved survival.

The researchers concluded that the surgical removal of lung metastasis-even multiple lung metastases-significantly improves the duration of survival among pediatric patients diagnosed with osteosarcoma. These results help define the survival benefit of this surgical procedure. Furthermore, the authors advocate repeat surgery to remove lung metastasis in patients who experience a recurrence of lung metastasis. Patients diagnosed with osteosarcoma with lung metastasis may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of surgery to remove their metastasis.

Reference: Harting M, Blakely M, Jaffe N, et al. Long-Term Survival after Aggressive Resection of Pulmonary Metastases among Children and Adolescents with Osteosarcoma. *Journal of Pediatric Surgery.*2006; 41: 194-199.