Purpose: Infants with stage 4S neuroblastoma usually have favorable outcomes with observation or minimal chemotherapy. However, young infants with symptoms secondary to massive hepatomegaly or with unfavorable tumor biology are at high risk of death. Our aim was to improve outcomes for patients with symptomatic and/or unfavorable biology 4S neuroblastoma with a uniform treatment approach using a biology- and response-based algorithm.
Patients and methods: The subset of patients with 4S disease with MYCN-not amplified tumors with impaired or impending organ dysfunction, or with unfavorable histology and/or diploid DNA index, were eligible. Patients were assigned to receive two, four, or eight cycles of chemotherapy on the basis of histology, diploid DNA index, chromosome arm 1p or 11q loss of heterozygosity (LOH) status, and symptoms.
Results: Forty-nine eligible patients were enrolled: 41 were symptomatic and 28 had unfavorable biology. Seventeen patients (symptomatic, favorable biology) were assigned two cycles, 21 patients (any unfavorable biologic feature without 1p or 11q LOH) were assigned four cycles, and 11 patients (unfavorable biology including 1p and/or 11q LOH [n = 7] or symptomatic with unknown biology [n = 4]), were assigned eight cycles. The 3-year overall survival was 81.4% ± 5.8%. Eight of nine deaths were in patients younger than 2 months of age at diagnosis (median, 9 days [range, 1 to 68 days]): five acute deaths were a result of hepatomegaly and associated toxicities; two were a result of late relapse in patients with unfavorable biology; and two were a result of treatment complications. No deaths occurred after protocol-mandated pre-emptive treatment of infants younger than 2 months with hepatomegaly, regardless of symptoms. A new scoring algorithm for emergent chemotherapy in patients with 4S disease was developed on the basis of this experience.
Conclusion: The outcome for 4S neuroblastoma can be improved with pre-emptive chemotherapy for evolving hepatomegaly or other baseline comorbidities in infants younger than 2 months of age.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00499616.