Current status of treatment for pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma in the USA and Japan

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Abstract

This article reviews the current status of treatment for children with rhabdomyosarcoma, according to the four risk groups. Low-risk subgroup A: the Children's Oncology Group in the USA recently performed a clinical trial consisting of a chemotherapy regimen with a shortened treatment period and a reduced drug dosage. Patients in this group received only four cycles of vincristine and actinomycin D (VA) after four cycles of vincristine, actinomycin D, and cyclophosphamide (VAC) with cyclophosphamide (CPM) 1.2 g/m2 and their outcome was no worse than that obtained with previous regimens. Low-risk subgroup B: although marked improvement in survival was seen with an intensive VAC regimen with CPM 2.2 g/m2/cycle (Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study [IRS]-V, 1997–2004), the total dose of CPM in this regimen caused serious and fatal hepatic veno-occlusive disease during treatment and probably cannot avoid infertility or possible secondary cancer as a late effect. Thereafter, a reduced-dose regimen consisting of four cycles of VAC with CPM 1.2 g/m2 followed by 12 cycles of VA was investigated in the next study, but the outcome appeared to be worse than in IRS-V. Intermediate-risk group: no significant difference was found between VAC/vincristine, topotecan and cyclophispahamide (VTC) and intensive VAC in IRS-V. The results of a subsequent regimen of VAC with CPM 1.2 g/m2 alternating with vincristine and irinotecan are awaited. High-risk group: overall survival is approximately 30% and has not improved over the last 25 years. Although 18 month failure-free survival (FFS) was improved with an intensive combination therapy regimen, 36 month FFS dropped to 32% and thus better novel approaches or additive treatments are needed.

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