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J Clin Oncol. 1994 Aug;12(8):1607-15.

Survival of infants with primitive neuroectodermal tumors or malignant ependymomas of the CNS treated with eight drugs in 1 day: a report from the Childrens Cancer Group.

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  • 1Children's Hospital and Medical Center, Seattle, WA.



Very young children with CNS primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs) and ependymomas have a poor prognosis and commonly have impairment of growth and cognitive abilities, in part resulting from radiotherapy. Thus, an intensive chemotherapeutic regimen was used to treat children less than 18 months of age at diagnosis.


Children were treated on a Childrens Cancer Group (CCG) protocol with an eight-drug chemotherapeutic regimen (vincristine, carmustine, procarbazine, hydroxyurea, cisplatin, cytarabine, prednisone, and cyclophosphamide) following surgery and postoperative staging. Delayed or reduced-volume radiotherapy was to be administered to all patients, but, in fact, was omitted in most cases.


On central review of pathology, 82 children had diagnosis concordant with study entry criteria. Of these, 46 (56%) had posterior fossa (PF) PNET, eight (10%) had pineal PNET, 11 (12%) had nonpineal supratentorial PNET, 15 (18%) had ependymoma, and two had rhabdoid tumors. Fifty percent of tumor resections were complete, as verified by postoperative computed tomographic (CT) scan, and 23% of patients had metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis. Objective tumor response was documented following two cycles of chemotherapy in 28% of assessable patients. Toxicity of chemotherapy was primarily hematopoietic. Five children died of chemotherapy-related complications. Radiotherapy was administered to only nine patients before tumor progression. The 3-year progression-free survival (PFS) rates for PF PNET, pineal PNET, supratentorial nonpineal PNET, and ependymoma are 22% (SE = 6%), 0%, 55% (16%), and 26% (11%), respectively. The 3-year PFS rate for those children without metastatic disease was 29% (6%), as compared with 11% (6%) for those with metastatic disease. The only independent predictors of PFS were metastasis stage and location of the tumor within the pineal region. The median time to progression was 6 months. Twenty-four children completed the chemotherapeutic regimen without tumor progression; 19 are event-free survivors more than 2 years from diagnosis, only three of whom received radiation therapy.


While overall survival in this group of very young patients is poor, a subset of children who have received only chemotherapy as adjuvant treatment remain free from tumor recurrence.

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