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J Clin Oncol. 2008 Jan 20;26(3):406-13. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.12.2382.

Initial patient characteristics can predict pattern and risk of relapse in localized rhabdomyosarcoma.

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  • 1Olgahospital, Pediatrics 5 (Oncology, Hematology, Immunology), Klinikum Stuttgart, Bismarckstrasse 8, D-70176 Stuttgart, Germany.

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  • J Clin Oncol.2008 Apr 10;26(11) 1911.



Evaluation of primary tumor-, treatment-, and patient-related factors predicting relapse pattern, risk, and survival after relapse with the aim to design a risk-adapted, tumor-directed surveillance program for patients with localized rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS).


One thousand one hundred sixty-four patients with nonmetastatic RMS achieved complete remission at the end of multimodal therapy in the consecutive trials of the Cooperative Weichteilsarkom Studiengruppe (CWS)-81, CWS-86, CWS-91, and CWS-96 between 1980 and 2002 (median follow-up, 5 years). Three hundred thirty-seven of these individuals developed either locoregional, metastatic, or combined relapses. Predictive factors for relapse, its pattern, and postrelapse survival were analyzed.


Age, histology, tumor size, tumor site, postsurgical stage, and omission of radiotherapy were identified as factors associated with an increased relapse risk in multivariate analyses. Relapse rates did not differ among the CWS trials. Median time to relapse was 1.43 years from first diagnosis (range, 0.13 to 13.5 years). There were 217 locoregional, 72 metastatic, and 48 combined recurrences. Only two patients developed metastases more than 4 years after diagnosis, and both had combined recurrences. Five-year postrelapse survival was 24%. Patient subsets with consistent relapse pattern, risk, and postrelapse survival rates were identified on the basis of histologic subtype and tumor size.


Initial patient and tumor characteristics predict pattern and risk of relapse and also correlate with postrelapse survival probabilities. In localized RMS, tumor-directed follow-up should focus on the primary site. Screening for metastatic relapse may not be necessary more than 4 years after diagnosis. The identification of subgroups with distinctive pattern and risk of relapse may be used to develop risk-adapted, tumor-directed guidance for detection of recurrent disease in localized RMS.

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