Objective: The prognosis for neuroblastoma in advanced stage is still poor, even under conventional chemotherapy. This study aimed to investigate if very high dose chemotherapy in conjunction with autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation and 13-cis-retinoic acid could get excellent results in children with high risk neuroblastoma.
Methods: Six children, aged from 4 to 8 years, with stage IV neuroblastoma were included in the study. The duration of the illness before admission was 1 to 12 months. Primary sites of the diseases were in the abdominal cavity (n = 5) and thoracic cavity (n = 1). All of patients had bone marrow metastasis, and one had multiple bone metastasis and orbital metastasis. All of the patients received very high dose chemotherapy, surgery, local radiation (20-30 Gy), and autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation as well as 13-cis retinoic acid. Induction chemotherapy included vincristine 0.67 mg/(m2 x 24 h, x 3), cyclophosphamide 2.1 g/(m2 x 24 h, x 2) and doxorubicin 25 mg/(m2 x 24 h, x 3) for 4 courses. Drugs were given as 24 hour-continuous intravenous infusion. Etopside 200 mg/(m2 x 24 h, x 3) and cisplatin 50 mg/(m2 x 24 h, x 3) were given for 2 courses. Conditioning regimen included carboplatin 400 mg/(m2.d) for 4 days, etoposide 300 mg/(m2.d) for 4 days and melphalan 70 mg/(m2.d) for 3 days. 13-cis retinoic acid 160 mg/(m2.d) started on +59 days for 6 courses, each course including 14 days therapy and 14 days rest.
Results: Six patients got a complete response before stem cell transplantation. Their bone marrow metastasis disappeared and so did bone and orbital metastasis. However, marrow suppression due to very high dose chemotherapy occurred in all of the patients, which lasted for 3-4 weeks for peripheral leukocyte recovery. Fever occurred after they finished 1/3 course of chemotherapy. Infection, however, was cured with the use of Fortum and Imipenem, ect. Autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation was initiated and successful in all cases. Follow-up studies revealed that all the patients were in CR status 4-18 months after transplant, and the cardiac and liver and renal functions were normal. Meanwhile, bone marrow was recovered or in the process of recovery.
Conclusion: The new strategies focused on very high dose chemotherapy, autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation and biological therapy might be a good option for patients with advance neuroblastoma.