JOURNAL ARTICLE

Utility of chest computed tomography for staging in patients with T1 extremity soft tissue sarcomas

J B Fleming, S B Cantor, D G Varma, D Holst, B W Feig, K K Hunt, S R Patel, R S Benjamin, R E Pollock, P W Pisters
Cancer 2001 August 15, 92 (4): 863-8
11550159

BACKGROUND: National Cancer Center Network (NCCN) and Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) practice guidelines recommend chest computed tomography (CT) as part of the staging evaluation of patients with extremity soft tissue sarcoma (STS). In the current study, the authors evaluated the use and yield of chest roentgenography (CXR) and selective chest CT to screen for pulmonary metastases in patients with T1 STS.

METHODS: The utility of these staging studies was evaluated retrospectively in a cohort of 125 consecutive patients who presented to a tertiary care cancer center with T1 primary (nonrecurrent) extremity STS. Two diagnostic strategies (CXR alone vs. CXR plus chest CT) were evaluated using an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio.

RESULTS: The majority of tumors (70%) were high grade. The median sarcoma size was 3.0 cm; 64 of the tumors (51%) were located deep to the investing fascia of the extremity. All patients underwent staging CXR; 1 CXR (< 1%) was suspicious for metastatic disease. Fifty-one patients (41%) also underwent chest CT; 1 chest CT, performed in the patient with a suspicious CXR, revealed metastatic disease. With a median follow-up of 76 months, 19 patients (15%) developed metachronous pulmonary metastases. The relatively low yield resulted in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $59,772 per case of synchronous pulmonary metastasis detected by CXR plus chest CT.

CONCLUSIONS: Less than 1% of patients with T1 primary extremity STS were found to have pulmonary metastases that were detectable using a staging algorithm that employs routine CXR with the selective use of chest CT. The findings of the current study do not support current NCCN or SSO practice guidelines for patients with high-grade T1 STS.

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