The use of adjuvants after curettage has been well established for the treatment of giant cell tumor of bone. The purpose of this study was to analyze the rates of recurrence following different types of treatment as well as the influence of various factors of tumor presentation on those rates.
The data regarding benign giant cell tumors of the appendicular skeleton from ten bone tumor centers were evaluated. Axial and malignant tumors were excluded. The recurrence rates associated with the different treatment modalities were analyzed, and hazard ratios for a recurrence were calculated for multiple factors of tumor presentation.
The study included 384 surgical procedures, involving 256 primary and 128 recurrent tumors. The mean duration of follow-up was 64.2 months. Wide excision was performed in seventy-eight cases (20.3%), and an intralesional procedure was done in 306 (79.7%). Of the intralesional procedures, 103 (33.7%) were performed without the use of adjuvants, 102 (33.3%) included filling with polymethylmethacrylate, seventy-four (24.2%) included polymethylmethacrylate filling after phenolization, and twenty-seven (8.8%) included use of local toxins. The overall recurrence rate after the intralesional procedures was 49% when no adjuvants had been used, 22% when polymethylmethacrylate only had been used as an adjuvant, 27% when polymethylmethacrylate had been used after phenolization, and 15% when phenol or other local toxins had been used (without polymethylmethacrylate). The highest rate of recurrence (36%) after curettage with adjuvants was associated with extracompartmental tumors. Recurrent tumors were not at increased risk for another recurrence, even when they were extracompartmental. The recurrence rate following curettage of a primary tumor without the use of adjuvants (55%) was higher than that following the same treatment of a recurrent tumor (39%) (p = 0.033).
Use of polymethylmethacrylate as an adjuvant significantly reduces the recurrence rate following intralesional treatment of benign giant cell tumors, and it appears to be the therapy of choice for primary as well as recurrent giant cell tumors of bone. The significantly better results following treatment of recurrent tumors without adjuvants compared with the results of the same treatment of primary tumors were probably related to increased surgical thoroughness brought about by the surgeon's awareness of dealing with a riskier tumor.

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