BACKGROUND: Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) occurring at nonparameningeal head and neck (NPM-HN) sites carries a better prognosis than parameningeal RMS and some other sites. We analyzed the treatments administered and results obtained in patients with localized NPM-HN RMS, included in the protocols coordinated by the Italian Soft Tissue Sarcoma Committee (STSC), in an effort to identify prognostic factors that could facilitate the tailoring of treatment.
METHODS: Sixty-six patients up to 18 years of age with previously untreated, localized NPM-HN RMS were prospectively registered in three consecutive protocols: RMS79, RMS88, and RMS96. Primary surgery was recommended when complete tumor resection was deemed feasible without mutilations. In other cases, only a biopsy was performed, followed by chemotherapy and delayed surgery and/or radiotherapy (RT).
RESULTS: NPM-HN RMS showed favorable characteristics: 72.7% were <5 cm, 72.7% were T1, and 80.3% were N0. With a median follow-up of 16 years (range 7-27), the 10-year progression-free survival and overall survival for the whole group were 65.1% (confidence interval [CI]: 52.3-75.3) and 74.2% (CI: 61.8-83.1). Progressive improvement has been seen in the successive protocols. Age and RT emerged as independent prognostic factors. The group of young children (age <l year) not irradiated was at high risk of failure.
CONCLUSION: The experience of the Italian STSC confirms that NPM-HN RMS has a favorable prognosis, which has improved over the years due to a better, multimodal treatment approach. RT has an important role, but different modalities such as proton therapy and brachytherapy should be explored in systematic ways in very young children.
- Journal Article