Clinical perspective on desmoplastic small round-cell tumor

Oncology. 2004;67(3-4):231-42. doi: 10.1159/000081323.


Rare diseases are often associated with uninformed medical decisions and poorly executed treatments because of inexperience of the physicians. Desmoplastic small round-cell tumor is a rare disease that is a form of peritoneal surface malignancy usually affecting young males, with a mean survival of 29 months. In order to begin to build a more knowledgeable clinical pathway all 7 patients treated at the Washington Hospital Center were studied and compared to patients described in the medical literature. Clinical and pathological data, tumor distribution, cytoreductive surgery, completeness of cytoreduction and survival were recorded and analyzed. The first most common symptoms were pain, increased abdominal girth and palpable abdominal mass in our patients and in the literature review. The overall survival did not improve with cytoreductive surgery plus intraperitoneal chemotherapy (mean survival 32 months); however, 2 long-term survivors who responded to systemic chemotherapy of 55 and 101 months were recorded. The latter may be the longest survivor reported in the literature. No consistent response to chemotherapy was observed in our patients or in any literature review. Complete surgical removal of this malignancy did not correlate with survival in our patients. The absence of improved survival of our aggressively treated patients as compared to the literature was thought to be a consequence of an advanced stage of the disease. A new comprehensive approach that uses complete clearing of cancer by surgery and perioperative systemic and perioperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy as early as is possible in the natural history of the disease emerged as goals for future management.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Abdominal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Abdominal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Abdominal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / surgery*
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Selection
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome