Thursday, 3 May 2012

Osteosarcoma outcomes getting worse

As regular readers will know, my son George died from metastatic osteosarcoma just over a year ago. What struck us at the time was the fact that there were no new treatments on this horizon - and that the obvious things to try (like zoledronate, ibandronate or other bisphosphonates) weren't being trialled despite them being used in palliative care for bone metastases in other cancers.

I've also written about the awful bone cancer statistics in the UK before. Now a new study (A Meta-Analysis of Osteosarcoma Outcomes in the Modern Medical Era,  Sarcoma, 2012) looks across the board at how osteosarcoma survival statistics have changed over the last thirty years. The findings are pretty grim:
Our study confirms suspicions regarding the lack of statistical improvement in osteosarcoma survival over the last thirty years. In fact, DFS (disease free survival) at the 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year marks have shown recent decreases over the last two decades. After steep improvements up until the 1970’s, overall survival at the 5 and 10-year marks has simply plateaued with lack of statistical improvements. Similarly, recurrence rates have fluctuated in the modern era, without significant improvement. This lack of improvement is also true in subset populations like pelvic metastatic cases, with actual decreases in survival in both of these populations over the last two decades, though these decreases did not reach statistical significance.
In other words not only have things not improved, they've gone backwards.  

This stinks. If the treatments haven't changed, then what explains the decreased survival? The drugs haven't changed, so what has? It can only be the formalisation of protocols and clinical practices.

Surely this is an issue that deserves some priority - including from anticancer activists and campaigners.

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