Cancer and Central Nervous System Tumor Surveillance in Pediatric Neurofibromatosis 1

Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Jun 15;23(12):e46-e53. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-0589.


Although the neurofibromatoses consist of at least three autosomal dominantly inherited disorders, neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), and schwannomatosis, NF1 represents a multisystem pleiotropic condition very different from the other two. NF1 is a genetic syndrome first manifesting in childhood; affecting multiple organs, childhood development, and neurocognitive status; and presenting the clinician with often complex management decisions that require a multidisciplinary approach. Molecular genetic testing (see article for detailed discussion) is recommended to confirm NF1, particularly in children fulfilling only pigmentary features of the diagnostic criteria. Although cancer risk is not the major issue facing an individual with NF1 during childhood, the condition causes significantly increased malignancy risks compared with the general population. Specifically, NF1 is associated with highly elevated risks of juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, rhabdomyosarcoma, and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor as well as substantial risks of noninvasive pilocytic astrocytoma, particularly optic pathway glioma (OPG), which represent a major management issue. Until 8 years of age, clinical assessment for OPG is advised every 6 to 12 months, but routine MRI assessment is not currently advised in asymptomatic individuals with NF1 and no signs of clinical visual pathway disturbance. Routine surveillance for other malignancies is not recommended, but clinicians and parents should be aware of the small risks (<1%) of certain specific individual malignancies (e.g., rhabdomyosarcoma). Tumors do contribute to both morbidity and mortality, especially later in life. A single whole-body MRI should be considered at transition to adulthood to assist in determining approaches to long-term follow-up. Clin Cancer Res; 23(12); e46-e53. ©2017 AACRSee all articles in the online-only CCR Pediatric Oncology Series.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / therapy
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neurilemmoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurilemmoma / genetics*
  • Neurilemmoma / therapy
  • Neurofibromatoses / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurofibromatoses / genetics*
  • Neurofibromatoses / therapy
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / genetics*
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / therapy
  • Optic Nerve Glioma / diagnostic imaging
  • Optic Nerve Glioma / genetics*
  • Optic Nerve Glioma / therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy

Supplementary concepts

  • Schwannomatosis