Tumour Volume Reduction After Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Impacts Outcome in Localised Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma

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Response (tumour volume reduction) to induction chemotherapy has been used to stratify secondary local and systemic treatment of Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group III (IRSG-III) embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (RME) in consecutive CWS-trials. To evaluate its actual impact we studied response-related treatment and outcomes.


Patients with IRSG-III RME <21 years and non-response (NR, <33% volume reduction) in five consecutive CWS-trials were analysed and compared with partial responders (PAR, ≥33% reduction). The NR was reviewed and sub-classified as Objective Response (OR, <0%–33% reduction) or Stable/Progressive Disease (SPD).


Fifty-nine of 529 patients had NR (n = 34 OR, n = 25 SPD). Primary risk-factors including age, tumour size, and TN-classification did not differ between NR and PAR groups but NR had more patients with unfavourable sites comparatively (P = 0.04). There were no differences in primary risk-factors between OR and SPD. Significant factors associated with poor outcome in multivariate analysis were NR, TN-classification, age >10 years, tumour size >5 cm and therapy in older trials. After response assessment n = 24 NR continued to receive induction chemotherapy, n = 32 received other combinations and n = 3 no further chemotherapy. Forty-two non-responders were irradiated, and the tumours were completely resected in n = 20. After a median follow-up of 8 years, 34 NR are alive. Seventeen of 21 failures leading to disease-related deaths were locoregional. The five-year overall survival rate (OS) was 76 ± 4% for PAR, 79 ± 14% for OR, but only 40 ± 19% for SPD (P < 0.001).


Response to induction chemotherapy appears to be an important surrogate marker of poor outcome in patients with SPD largely due to ineffective local control. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2015;62:16–23. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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