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Am J Clin Oncol. 2011 Aug;34(4):417-21. doi: 10.1097/COC.0b013e3181e9c08a.

Early outcomes for malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor treated with chemotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 19106, USA.



Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST) are rare soft-tissue sarcomas with a tendency for recurrence and metastasis. Treatment using chemotherapy is controversial, but benefit with some agents has been described. This study aimed to analyze early survival outcomes using doxorubicin and ifosfamide chemotherapy for MPNST.


Pathology records at our musculoskeletal tumor center were searched for patients with a new diagnosis of MPNST between 2003 and 2008. Treatment involved surgical resection, radiation, and chemotherapy with doxorubicin and ifosfamide. Ten patients met inclusion criteria, with mean age 40 years (range, 20-70). Four patients had metastatic disease on presentation. Four patients had neurofibromatosis type I (NF1).


Of 6 patients with nonmetastatic disease on presentation, 5 had no evidence of disease post-treatment. The sixth had positive margins after surgery and initially received no further treatment due to noncompliance. Three from this subgroup developed local recurrence, but none developed distant metastases and 1 died of disease at last follow-up. One- and 2-year disease-free survival (DFS) for this subgroup was 80% and 60%, respectively. One- and 2-year overall survival (OS) for the subgroup was 100%. Of 4 patients with metastatic disease on presentation, 2 had no evidence of disease post-treatment. One of these 2 developed local recurrence, but none from the subgroup developed new metastatic disease. Two of these 4 died of disease at last follow-up. One- and 2-year DFS for this subgroup was 100% and 50%, respectively. One- and 2-year OS was 75% and 50%, respectively. Two of the 4 patients presenting with metastatic disease had NF1. All 3 local recurrences and 2 of the 3 deaths in this study occurred in NF1 patients.


For all patients, when combined with surgery and radiation, chemotherapy using doxorubicin and ifosfamide yielded 57% DFS and 80% OS at 2 years. NF1 patients appeared to have worse outcomes, with a statistically significantly lower DFS than non-NF1 patients. Limitations of this study include a small sample size, retrospective design, and use of different chemotherapy regimens.

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