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J Clin Oncol. 1996 Jul;14(7):2073-82.

Disease course and late sequelae of Langerhans' cell histiocytosis: 25-year experience at the University of California, San Francisco.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco 94143-0106, USA.



The purpose of our investigation was to correlate the extent and degree of organ involvement at presentation of Langerhans' cell histiocytosis (LCH) with subsequent disease course, survival, and late sequelae.


The medical records of 71 patients with a pathologic diagnosis of LCH, age 0 to 21 years, who presented between January 1, 1969 and June 30, 1994, were reviewed for organ involvement at diagnosis, treatment, disease course, and late sequelae. Supplementary data were obtained by mailed questionnaire.


The median follow-up time from diagnosis for all patients was 8.1 years. Involvement at diagnosis included nine patients with skin-only disease, 22 with monostotic disease, 12 with polyostotic disease, and 28 with multisystem presentation. Treatment was surgery only in 17 and chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy in 54 patients. Recurrences were seen in 35 patients, with the highest rate in the polyostotic group. Ten patients died: seven with the multisystem presentation, two with monostotic disease, and one with skin-only disease. Causes included progressive LCH (n = 6) and late sequelae of either treatment (n = 3) or disease (n = 1). Late sequelae were seen in 64% of 51 patients with more than 3 years of follow-up data. The most common were skeletal defects in 42%, dental problems in 30%, diabetes insipidus in 25%, growth failure in 20%, sex hormone deficiency in 16%, hypothyroidism in 14%, hearing loss in 16%, and other CNS dysfunction in 14%. The overall estimated survival rates at 5, 15, and 20 years are 88%, 88%, and 77%, with an estimated event-free survival rate of only 30% at 15 years.


Despite the favorable survival, more than half of LCH patients will have further dissemination of disease or late sequelae, including even some patients with single-system disease at diagnosis. Future treatment needs to be designed to prevent disease progression and late sequelae.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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