The data on 227 patients who had been managed for a chondrosarcoma at one institution were reviewed to determine the nature of the lesions, the predictors of outcome, and whether there were any ways to change the treatment approaches to improve the results.

The patients were followed for a mean duration of six years (range, three to twenty-five years). The mean age of the patients was forty-seven years (range, nine to eighty-four years). The most prevalent sites of the tumors were the femur (seventy-eight), the pelvis (fifty-one), and the humerus (thirty-nine). The tumors were divided into two groups according to histological grade. Eighty-six tumors (sixteen atypical enchondromas and seventy grade-1 chondrosarcomas) that were locally destructive but were associated with a low likelihood of metastasis were considered to be low-grade. The remaining 141 lesions, which were locally destructive, potentially metastatic, and capable of causing death, were thought to be high-grade. One hundred and three of these 141 lesions were grade 2, and thirty-eight were grade 3 (eighteen of the thirty-eight were grade 3 only, and twenty were both grade 3 and dedifferentiated). Two hundred and twenty-four patients were managed with resection and a limb-sparing procedure; the remaining three patients had an amputation. Postoperative adjuvant radiation was used for fifty-six patients; chemotherapy, for thirty-five; and both radiation and chemotherapy, for nineteen. Flow cytometric patterns were analyzed for 105 patients.

The patients who had a high-grade tumor were older than those who had a low-grade tumor (mean age [and standard deviation], 50+/-17.0 years compared with 40+/-15.9 years; p < 0.001). Pathological fracture, metastasis, local recurrence, and death were more prevalent in the group that had a high-grade lesion (p < 0.001). Predictors of metastasis and death in that group of patients included local recurrence, a pelvic location of the tumor, a tumor that was more than 100 cubic centimeters in size, a ploidic abnormality (aneuploidy coupled with a high mean DNA index), a histological grade of 3, and a dedifferentiated type of tumor (p < 0.001).

Although the data are suggestive, with the numbers available for study we could not detect a significant difference in the rates of pulmonary metastasis and death between the patients who had a grade-3 lesion and those who had a grade-3 lesion that was also dedifferentiated. However, the interval between diagnosis and death was 32+/-22.8 months for the patients who had a grade-3 lesion compared with 5+/-3.7 months for those who had a grade-3 lesion that was also dedifferentiated (p < 0.001). Overall, patients who had had a resection with wide margins (margins extending outside the reactive zone) had a longer duration of survival than did those who had had a so-called marginal resection (margins extending outside the tumor but within the reactive zone) or an intralesional resection (margins within the lesion) (p < 0.04). Adjunctive chemotherapy or radiation, or both (which, it must be noted, was used, without a protocol, in a relatively small number of patients), after an intralesional resection, for recurrent disease, or for distant metastasis did not appear to alter the outcome.