Vienna, 21st May 2014) Ewing's sarcoma is a malignant bone tumour usually found in the leg and hip, which has to be removed surgically. Those afflicted often suffer from a great fear that their mobility will be lost or restricted. A study team at the University Department of Orthopaedics and the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) of the MedUni Vienna and the Vienna General Hospital has now been able to demonstrate that patients operated on here remain mobile and can do sports again.
In Austria there are about 240 new cases of Ewing’s sarcoma a year. This extremelly painful disease mostly affects the leg and the hip, and causes the disintegration of the bone; untreated, it leads to death. Whereas previously the solution was often to amputate extensively, today in more than 90 percent of the cases the extremities are often successfully preserved. The treatment of choice is a combination of chemotherapy and an operation, in which the tumour is surgically removed. The missing piece of bone can be replaced with a prosthesis or the patient’s own bone material (biological reconstruction). An important question, which often bothers the mostly young patients, is to what extent the surgery will affect their mobility and their ability to do sports.
Ability to do sports can be preserved
A study group at the University Department of Orthopaedics at the MedUni Vienna (headed by Reinhard Windhager), led by Gerhard Hobusch, investigated the ability to do sports and the mobility of long-term patients after a Ewing’s sarcoma operation. The study demonstrated that, next to the position of the tumour and the type of the bone reconstruction, the sporting activity of the patients before the surgery also played a decisive role in the restoration and/or preservation of mobility.
Says Hobusch: "Using long-term survivors we were able to show that biological reconstruction demonstrates particularly good results. This was especially the case when the tumour was localised in the shin and, after the removal of the affected area, the missing part could be replaced with a piece of the fibula. Afterwards these patients were able once again to practice load-bearing sports such as jogging and, in so doing, achieved good results which were comparable with those of healthy persons."
Biological reconstructions to the hip and upper leg also gave good results. Says Hobusch: "We were surprised that even patients with megaprostheses (very large implants) of the knee and hip were able to achieve a high degree of mobility. The study has also shown that persons, who were already actively doing sports before the illness, were also more mobile after the operation and had not had to give up sport."
EMSOS 2014: Europe's biggest sarcoma congress from 22 to 23 May in Vienna
Bone cancer is, of course, also on the agenda at the 27th Annual Meeting of the European Musculo-Skeletal Oncology Society (E.M.S.O.S.) from 22 to 23 May 2014 in Vienna. This is directed at all professions involved with the diagnosis and treatment of sarcomas (tumours of the bone, cartilage and fat tissue). The conference chairman, Reinhard Windhager, head of the University Department of Orthopaedics at the MedUni Vienna and the CCC MST Unit (Musculosceletal Tumors Unit) says: "Our conference programme is based around the latest medical developments and has a strong interdisciplinary focus. We are expecting more than 450 participants at this conference." www.emsos2014.eu
Service: Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
"Do patients with Ewing's sarcoma continue with sports activities after limb salvage surgery of the lower extremity?" Gerhard Martin Hobusch, Nikolaus Lang, Reinhard Schuh, Reinhard Windhager, Jochen Gerhard Hofstaetter, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 04/2014; DOI:10.1007/s11999-014-3622-x. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24748070.