BACKGROUND: Risk stratification is crucial to treatment decision-making in neuroblastoma. This study aimed to explore factors present at diagnosis affecting outcome in patients aged ≥18 months with metastatic neuroblastoma and to develop a simple risk score for prognostication.
PROCEDURE: Data were derived from the European high-risk neuroblastoma 1 (HR-NBL1)/International Society for Paediatric Oncology European Neuroblastoma (SIOPEN) trial with analysis restricted to patients aged ≥18 months with metastatic disease and treated prior to the introduction of immunotherapy. Primary endpoint was 5-year event-free survival (EFS). Prognostic factors assessed were sex, age, tumour MYCN amplification (MNA) status, serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)/ferritin, primary tumour and metastatic sites. Factors significant in univariate analysis were incorporated into a multi-variable model and an additive scoring system developed based on estimated log-cumulative hazard ratios.
RESULTS: The cohort included 1053 patients with median follow-up 5.5 years and EFS 27 ± 1%. In univariate analyses, age; serum LDH and ferritin; involvement of bone marrow, bone, liver or lung; and >1 metastatic system/compartment were associated with worse EFS. Tumour MNA was not associated with worse EFS. A multi-variable model and risk score incorporating age (>5 years, 2 points), serum LDH (>1250 U/L, 1 point) and number of metastatic systems (>1, 2 points) were developed. EFS was significantly correlated with risk score: EFS 52 ± 9% for score = 0 versus 6 ± 3% for score = 5 (P < 0.0001).
CONCLUSIONS: A simple score can identify an "ultra-high risk" (UHR) cohort (score = 5) comprising 8% of patients with 5-year EFS <10%. These patients appear not to benefit from induction therapy and could potentially be directed earlier to alternative experimental therapies in future trials.