Giant cell tumour of bone in the denosumab era

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Publication date: May 2017
Source:European Journal of Cancer, Volume 77
Author(s): Lizz van der Heijden, P.D. Sander Dijkstra, Jean-Yves Blay, Hans Gelderblom
Giant cell tumour of bone (GCTB) is an intermediate locally aggressive primary bone tumour, occurring mostly at the meta-epiphysis of long bones. Overexpression of receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL) by mononuclear neoplastic stromal cells promotes recruitment of numerous reactive multinucleated osteoclast-like giant cells, causing lacunar bone resorption. Preferential treatment is curettage with local adjuvants such as phenol, alcohol or liquid nitrogen. The remaining cavity may be filled with bone graft or polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) bone cement; benefits of the latter are a lower risk of recurrence, possibility of direct weight bearing and early radiographic detection of recurrences. Reported recurrence rates are comparable for the different local adjuvants (27–31%). Factors increasing the local recurrence risk include soft tissue extension and anatomically difficult localisations such as the sacrum. When joint salvage is impossible, en-bloc resection and endoprosthetic joint replacement may be performed. Local tumour control on the one hand and maintenance of a functional native joint and quality of life on the other hand are the main pillars of surgical treatment for this disease. Current knowledge and development in the fields of imaging, functional biology and systemic therapy are forcing us into a paradigm shift from a purely surgical approach towards a multidisciplinary approach. Systemic therapy with denosumab (RANKL inhibitor) or zoledronic acid (bisphosphonates) blocks, respectively inhibits, bone resorption by osteoclast-like giant cells. After use of zoledronic acid, stabilisation of local and metastatic disease has been reported, although the level of evidence is low. Denosumab is more extensively studied in two prospective trials, and appears effective for the optimisation of surgical treatment. Denosumab should be considered in the standard multidisciplinary treatment of advanced GCTB (e.g. cortical destruction, soft tissue extension, joint involvement or sacral localisation) to facilitate surgery at a later stage, and thereby aiming at immediate local control. Even though several questions concerning optimal treatment dose, duration and interval and drug safety remain unanswered, denosumab is among the most effective drug therapies in oncology.

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Giant cell tumour of bone in the denosumab era

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