NUT midline carcinoma (NMC) is a poorly differentiated squamous cancer characterized by rearrangement of the NUT gene. Research advances have provided opportunities for targeted therapy in NMC, yet the clinical features of this rare disease have not been systematically characterized. We report on a large population of such patients to identify the disease characteristics and treatments, correlate them with outcome, and to consider clinical recommendations.
A clinical database was established using retrospective demographic and outcomes data available on all known cases of NMC. Questionnaires were completed by treating physicians. Pathologic, demographic, and clinical variables were assessed for 63 patients, the largest cohort of NMC patients studied to date. Outcome data from 54 patients were available for survival analyses.
The diagnosis of NMC has increased annually since 2007. Since 2009, there has been an observed increase in the age at diagnosis (p<0.05). Geographic distribution of NMC patients has been concentrated in the United States (n=41, 65%). The median overall survival for patients with NMC was 6.7 months. The 2-year progression-free survival (PFS) was 9% with a 95% CI of 1%–17% (1-year PFS 15% (5%–24%)) and 2-year overall survival (OS) was 19% with a 95% CI of 7%–31% (1-year OS: 30% (27%–34%). Multivariate analysis suggested that extent of surgical resection and initial radiotherapy were independent predictors of PFS and OS. Notably, no chemotherapeutic regimen was associated with improved outcome.
NMC portends a poor prognosis among all squamous cell neoplasms and appears to be frequently unrecognized. The finding that conventional chemotherapy has been inadequate indicates a pressing need for the development of targeted therapeutics. Intensive local therapies such as gross total resection and radiotherapy might be associated with enhanced survival.
NUT midline carcinoma; outcomes; registry
Survival after neuroblastoma relapse is poor. Understanding the relationship between clinical and biologic features and outcome after relapse may help in selection of optimal therapy. Our aim was to determine which factors were significantly predictive of postrelapse overall survival (OS) in patients with recurrent neuroblastoma—particularly whether time from diagnosis to first relapse (TTFR) was a significant predictor of OS.
Patients and Methods
Patients with first relapse/progression were identified in the International Neuroblastoma Risk Group (INRG) database. Time from study enrollment until first event and OS time starting from first event were calculated. Cox regression models were used to calculate the hazard ratio of increased death risk and perform survival tree regression. TTFR was tested in a multivariable Cox model with other factors.
In the INRG database (N = 8,800), 2,266 patients experienced first progression/relapse. Median time to relapse was 13.2 months (range, 1 day to 11.4 years). Five-year OS from time of first event was 20% (SE, ± 1%). TTFR was statistically significantly associated with OS time in a nonlinear relationship; patients with TTFR of 36 months or longer had the lowest risk of death, followed by patients who relapsed in the period of 0 to less than 6 months or 18 to 36 months. Patients who relapsed between 6 and 18 months after diagnosis had the highest risk of death. TTFR, age, International Neuroblastoma Staging System stage, and MYCN copy number status were independently predictive of postrelapse OS in multivariable analysis.
Age, stage, MYCN status, and TTFR are significant prognostic factors for postrelapse survival and may help in the design of clinical trials evaluating novel agents.
Children diagnosed at age ≥ 18 months with metastatic MYCN-nonamplified neuroblastoma (NBL-NA) are at high risk for disease relapse, whereas those diagnosed at age < 18 months are nearly always cured. In this study, we investigated the hypothesis that expression of genes related to tumor-associated inflammatory cells correlates with the observed differences in survival by age at diagnosis and contributes to a prognostic signature.
Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in localized and metastatic neuroblastomas (n = 71) were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Expression of 44 genes representing tumor and inflammatory cells was quantified in 133 metastatic NBL-NAs to assess age-dependent expression and to develop a logistic regression model to provide low- and high-risk scores for predicting progression-free survival (PFS). Tumors from high-risk patients enrolled onto two additional studies (n = 91) served as independent validation cohorts.
Metastatic neuroblastomas had higher infiltration of TAMs than locoregional tumors, and metastatic tumors diagnosed in patients at age ≥ 18 months had higher expression of inflammation-related genes than those in patients diagnosed at age < 18 months. Expression of genes representing TAMs (CD33/CD16/IL6R/IL10/FCGR3) contributed to 25% of the accuracy of a novel 14-gene tumor classification score. PFS at 5 years for children diagnosed at age ≥ 18 months with NBL-NA with a low- versus high-risk score was 47% versus 12%, 57% versus 8%, and 50% versus 20% in three independent clinical trials, respectively.
These data suggest that interactions between tumor and inflammatory cells may contribute to the clinical metastatic neuroblastoma phenotype, improve prognostication, and reveal novel therapeutic targets.
Neuroblastomas (NBs) are characterized by clinical heterogeneity, from spontaneous regression to relentless progression. The pattern of NTRK family gene expression contributes to these disparate behaviors. TrkA/NTRK1 is expressed in favorable NBs that regress or differentiate, whereas TrkB/NTRK2 and its ligand BDNF are co-expressed in unfavorable NBs, representing an autocrine survival pathway. We determined the significance of NTRK family gene expression in a large, representative set of primary NBs.
Patients and Methods
We analyzed the expression of the following genes in 814 NBs using quantitative real-time RT-PCR: NTRK1, NTRK2, NTRK3, P75/NGFR, NGF, BDNF, IGFR1 and EGFR. Expression (high vs. low) was dichotomized by median expression value and compared to clinical and biological variables as well as outcome.
High NTRK1 expression was strongly correlated with favorable age, stage, MYCN status, histology, ploidy, risk group and outcome (p<0.0001 for all). However, it did not add significantly to the panel of prognostic variables currently used for cooperative group trials. NTRK2 expression was associated with risk factors but not with outcome. High NGF expression was also associated with most risk factors and weakly with unfavorable outcome.
High expression of NTRK1 is strongly associated with favorable risk factors and outcome in a large, representative population of NB patients. It did not add significantly to the current risk prediction algorithm, but it may contribute to future expression classifiers. Indeed, prospective assessment of NTRK1 and NTRK2 expression will identify tumors that would be candidates for NTRK-targeted therapy, either alone or in combination with conventional agents.
neuroblastoma; TrkA/NTRK1; TrkB/NTRK2; TrkC/NTRK3; P75/NGFR; NGF; BDNF; expression; prognosis
The primary objective of Children's Oncology Group study P9641 was to demonstrate that surgery alone would achieve 3-year overall survival (OS) ≥ 95% for patients with asymptomatic International Neuroblastoma Staging System stages 2a and 2b neuroblastoma (NBL). Secondary objectives focused on other low-risk patients with NBL and on those who required chemotherapy according to protocol-defined criteria.
Patients and Methods
Patients underwent maximally safe resection of tumor. Chemotherapy was reserved for patients with, or at risk for, symptomatic disease, with less than 50% tumor resection at diagnosis, or with unresectable progressive disease after surgery alone.
For all 915 eligible patients, 5-year event-free survival (EFS) and OS were 89% ± 1% and 97% ± 1%, respectively. For patients with asymptomatic stage 2a or 2b disease, 5-year EFS and OS were 87% ± 2% and 96% ± 1%, respectively. Among patients with stage 2b disease, EFS and OS were significantly lower for those with unfavorable histology or diploid tumors, and OS was significantly lower for those ≥ 18 months old. For patients with stage 1 and 4s NBL, 5-year OS rates were 99% ± 1% and 91% ± 1%, respectively. Patients who required chemotherapy at diagnosis achieved 5-year OS of 98% ± 1%. Of all patients observed after surgery, 11.1% experienced recurrence or progression of disease.
Excellent survival rates can be achieved in asymptomatic low-risk patients with stages 2a and 2b NBL after surgery alone. Immediate use of chemotherapy may be restricted to a minority of patients with low-risk NBL. Patients with stage 2b disease who are older or have diploid or unfavorable histology tumors fare less well. Future studies will seek to refine risk classification.
Neuroblastomas (NBs) have genomic, biological and clinical heterogeneity. High-risk NBs are characterized by several genomic changes, including MYCN amplification and 1p36 deletion. We identified the chromatin-remodeling gene CHD5 as a tumor suppressor gene that maps to 1p36.31. Low or absent CHD5 expression is associated with a 1p36 deletion and an unfavorable outcome, but the mechanisms of CHD5 inactivation in NBs are unknown.
We examined 1) the CHD5 sequence in 188 high-risk NBs investigated through the TARGET initiative; 2) the methylation status of the CHD5 promoter in 108 NBs with or without 1p36 deletion and/or MYCN amplification; and 3) mRNA expression of CHD5 and MYCN in 814 representative NBs using TaqMan low-density array microfluidic cards.
We found no examples of somatically acquired CHD5 mutations, even in cases with 1p36 deletion, indicating that homozygous genomic inactivation is rare. Methylation of the CHD5 promoter was common in the high-risk tumors, and it was generally associated with both 1p deletion and MYCN amplification. High CHD5 expression was a powerful predictor of favorable outcome, and it showed prognostic value even in multivariable analysis after adjusting for MYCN amplification, 1p36 deletion, and/or 11q deletion.
We conclude that 1) somatically acquired CHD5 mutations are rare in primary NBs, so inactivation probably occurs by deletion and epigenetic silencing; 2) CHD5 expression and promoter methylation are associated with MYCN amplification, suggesting a possible interaction between these two genes; and 3) high CHD5 expression is strongly correlated with favorable clinical/biological features and outcome.
Neuroblastoma; CHD5; expression; methylation; mutation
To assess the feasibility of adding dose-intensive topotecan and cyclophosphamide to induction therapy for newly diagnosed high-risk neuroblastoma (HRNB).
Patients and Methods
Enrolled patients received two cycles of topotecan (approximately 1.2 mg/m2/d) and cyclophosphamide (400 mg/m2/d) for 5 days followed by four cycles of multiagent chemotherapy (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center [MSKCC] regimen). Pharmacokinetically guided topotecan dosing (target systemic exposure with area under the curve of 50 to 70 ng/mL/hr) was performed. Peripheral-blood stem cell (PBSC) harvest and surgical resection of residual primary tumor occurred after cycles 2 and 5, respectively. Patients achieving at least a partial response received myeloablative chemotherapy with PBSC rescue and radiation to the presurgical primary tumor volume. Oral 13-cis-retinoic acid maintenance therapy was administered twice daily for 14 days in six 28-day cycles.
Thirty-one patients were enrolled onto the study. No deaths related to toxicity or dose-limiting toxicities occurred during induction. Mucositis rarely occurred after topotecan cycles (9.7%) in contrast to 30% after MSKCC cycles. Thirty patients underwent PBSC collection with median 31.1 × 106 CD34+ cells/kg (range, 1.8 to 541.8 × 106 CD34+ cells/kg), all negative for tumor contamination by immunocytochemical analysis. Targeted topotecan systemic exposure was achieved in 26 (84%) of 31 patients. At the end of induction, 26 patients (84%) had tumor response and one patient had progressive disease. In the overall cohort, 3-year event-free and overall survival were 37.8% ± 9.4% and 57.1% ± 9.4%, respectively.
This pilot induction regimen was well tolerated with expected and reversible toxicities. These data support investigation of efficacy in a phase III clinical trial for newly diagnosed HRNB.
Patients with neuroblastoma younger than 12 months of age with a 4S pattern of disease (metastases limited to liver, skin, bone marrow) have better outcomes than infants with stage 4 disease. The new International Neuroblastoma Risk Group (INRG) staging system extends age to 18 months for the 4S pattern. Our aim was to determine which prognostic features could be used for optimal risk classification among patients younger than 18 months with metastatic disease.
Event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival were analyzed by log-rank tests, Cox models, and survival tree regression for 656 infants with stage 4S neuroblastoma younger than 12 months of age and 1,019 patients with stage 4 disease younger than 18 months of age in the INRG database.
Unfavorable biologic features were more frequent in infants with stage 4 disease than in infants with 4S tumors and higher overall in those age 12 to 18 months (although not different for stage 4 v 4S pattern). EFS was significantly better for infants younger than 12 months with 4S pattern than with stage 4 disease (P < .01) but similar for toddlers age 12 to 18 months with stage 4 versus 4S pattern. Among 717 patients with stage 4S pattern, patients age 12 to 18 months had worse EFS than those age younger than 12 months (P < .01). MYCN, 11q, mitosis-karyorrhexis index (MKI), ploidy, and lactate dehydrogenase were independently statistically significant predictors of EFS and more highly predictive than age or metastatic pattern. MYCN, 11q, MKI, histology, and 1p were combined in a survival tree for improved risk stratification.
Tumor biology is more critical than age or metastatic pattern for prognosis of patients age younger than 18 months with metastatic neuroblastoma and should be considered for risk stratification.
To determine the response rate to oral capsular fenretinide in children with recurrent or biopsy proven refractory high-risk neuroblastoma.
Patients received 7 days of fenretinide: 2475 mg/m2/day divided TID (<18 years) or 1800 mg/m2/day divided BID (≥18 years) every 21 days for a maximum of 30 courses. Patients with stable or responding disease after course 30 could request additional compassionate courses. Best response by course 8 was evaluated in Stratum 1 (measurable disease on CT/MRI +/− bone marrow and/or MIBG avid sites) and Stratum 2 (bone marrow and/or MIBG avid sites only).
Sixty-two eligible patients, median age 5 years (range 0.6–19.9), were treated in Stratum 1 (n=38) and Stratum 2 (n=24). One partial response (PR) was seen in Stratum 2 (n=24 evaluable). No responses were seen in Stratum 1 (n=35 evaluable). Prolonged stable disease (SD) was seen in 7 patients in Stratum 1 and 6 patients in Stratum 2 for 4–45+ (median 15) courses. Median time to progression was 40 days (range 17–506) for Stratum 1 and 48 days (range 17–892) for Stratum 2. Mean 4-HPR steady state trough plasma concentrations were 7.25 µM (coefficient of variation 40–56%) at day 7 course 1. Toxicities were mild and reversible.
Although neither stratum met protocol criteria for efficacy, 1 PR + 13 prolonged SD occurred in 14/59 (24%) of evaluable patients. Low bioavailability may have limited fenretinide activity. Novel fenretinide formulations with improved bioavailability are currently in pediatric Phase I studies.
fenretinide; neuroblastoma; Phase II; ANBL0321
Purpose. 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) is used for the diagnostic evaluation of neuroblastoma. We evaluated the relationship between norepinephrine transporter (NET) expression and clinical MIBG uptake. Methods. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR (N = 82) and immunohistochemistry (IHC; N = 61) were performed for neuroblastoma NET mRNA and protein expression and correlated with MIBG avidity on diagnostic scans. The correlation of NET expression with clinical features was also performed. Results. Median NET mRNA expression level for the 19 MIBG avid patients was 12.9% (range 1.6–73.7%) versus 5.9% (range 0.6–110.0%) for the 8 nonavid patients (P = 0.31). Median percent NET protein expression was 50% (range 0–100%) in MIBG avid patients compared to 10% (range 0–80%) in nonavid patients (P = 0.027). MYCN amplified tumors had lower NET protein expression compared to nonamplified tumors (10% versus 50%; P = 0.0002). Conclusions. NET protein expression in neuroblastoma correlates with MIBG avidity. MYCN amplified tumors have lower NET protein expression.
This phase II study was conducted to determine the response rate associated with use of irinotecan and temozolomide for children with relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma.
Patients and Methods
Patients with relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma measurable by cross-sectional imaging (stratum 1) or assessable by bone marrow aspirate/biopsy or metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scan (stratum 2) received irinotecan (10 mg/m2/dose 5 days a week for 2 weeks) and temozolomide (100 mg/m2/dose for 5 days) every 3 weeks. Response was assessed after three and six courses using International Neuroblastoma Response Criteria. Of the first 25 evaluable patients on a given stratum, five or more patients with complete or partial responses were required to conclude that further study would be merited.
Fifty-five eligible patients were enrolled. The objective response rate was 15%. Fourteen patients (50%) on stratum 1 and 15 patients (56%) on stratum 2 had stable disease. Objective responses were observed in three of the first 25 evaluable patients on stratum 1 and five of the first 25 evaluable patients on stratum 2. Less than 6% of patients experienced ≥ grade 3 diarrhea. Although neutropenia was observed, less than 10% of patients developed evidence of infection while neutropenic.
The combination of irinotecan and temozolomide was well tolerated. The objective response rate of 19% in stratum 2 suggests that this combination may be effective for patients with neuroblastoma detectable by MIBG or marrow analysis. Although fewer objective responses were observed in patients with disease measurable by computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging, patients in both strata seem to have derived clinical benefit from this therapy.
Although health disparities are well-described for many cancers, little is known about racial and ethnic disparities in neuroblastoma. To evaluate differences in disease presentation and survival by race and ethnicity, data from the Children's Oncology Group (COG) were analyzed.
Patients and Methods
The racial/ethnic differences in clinical and biologic risk factors, and outcome of patients with neuroblastoma enrolled on COG ANBL00B1 between 2001 and 2009 were investigated.
A total of 3,539 patients (white, 72%; black, 12%; Hispanic, 12%; Asian, 4%; and Native American, < 1%) with neuroblastoma were included. The 5-year event-free survival (EFS) rates were 67% for whites (95% CI, 65% to 69%), 69% for Hispanics (95% CI, 63% to 74%), 62% for Asians (95% CI, 51% to 71%), 56% for blacks (95% CI, 50% to 62%), and 37% for Native American (95% CI, 17% to 58%). Blacks (P < .001) and Native Americans (P = .04) had a higher prevalence of high-risk disease than whites, and significantly worse EFS (P = .01 and P = .002, respectively). Adjustment for risk group abrogated these differences. However, closer examination of the EFS among high-risk patients who remained event free for 2 years or longer, revealed a higher prevalence of late-occurring events among blacks compared with whites (hazard ratio, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.0 to 2.3; P = .04).
Black and Native American patients with neuroblastoma have a higher prevalence of high-risk disease, accounting for their worse EFS when compared with whites. The higher prevalence of late-occurring events among blacks with high-risk disease suggests that this population may be more resistant to chemotherapy. Studies focused on delineating the genetic basis for the racial disparities observed in this study are planned.
The hu14.18-IL2 fusion protein consists of interleukin-2 molecularly linked to a humanized monoclonal antibody that recognizes the GD2 disialoganglioside expressed on neuroblastoma cells. This phase II study assessed the antitumor activity of hu14.18-IL2 in two strata of patients with recurrent or refractory neuroblastoma.
Patients and Methods
Hu14.18-IL2 was given intravenously (12 mg/m2/daily) for 3 days every 4 weeks for patients with disease measurable by standard radiographic criteria (stratum 1) and for patients with disease evaluable only by [123I]metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scintigraphy and/or bone marrow (BM) histology (stratum 2). Response was established by independent radiology review as well as BM histology and immunocytology, and durability was assessed by repeat evaluation after more than 3 weeks.
Thirty-nine patients were enrolled (36 evaluable). No responses were seen in stratum 1 (n = 13). Of 23 evaluable patients in stratum 2, five patients (21.7%) responded; all had a complete response (CR) of 9, 13, 20, 30, and 35+ months duration. Grade 3 and 4 nonhematologic toxicities included capillary leak, hypoxia, pain, rash, allergic reaction, elevated transaminases, and hyperbilirubinemia. Two patients required dopamine for hypotension, and one patient required ventilatory support for hypoxia. Most toxicities were reversible within a few days of completing a treatment course and were expected based on phase I results.
Patients with disease evaluable only by MIBG and/or BM histology had a 21.7% CR rate to hu14.8-IL2, whereas patients with bulky disease did not respond. Hu14.18-IL2 warrants further testing in children with nonbulky high-risk neuroblastoma.
Single-agent topotecan (TOPO) and combination topotecan and cyclophosphamide (TOPO/CTX) were compared in a phase II randomized trial in relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma. Because responders often underwent further therapies, novel statistical methods were required to compare the long-term outcome of the two treatments.
Patients and Methods
Children with refractory/recurrent neuroblastoma (only one prior aggressive chemotherapy regimen) were randomly assigned to daily 5-day topotecan (2 mg/m2) or combination topotecan (0.75 mg/m2) and cyclophosphamide (250 mg/m2). A randomized two-stage group sequential design enrolled 119 eligible patients. Toxicity and response were estimated. Long-term outcome of protocol therapy was assessed using novel methods—causal inference—which allowed adjustment for the confounding effect of off-study therapies.
Seven more responses were observed for TOPO/CTX (complete response [CR] plus partial response [PR], 18 [32%] of 57) than TOPO (CR+PR, 11 [19%] of 59;P = .081); toxicity was similar. At 3 years, progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were 4% ± 2% and 15% ± 4%, respectively. PFS was significantly better for TOPO/CTX (P = .029); there was no difference in OS. Older age at diagnosis and lack of MYCN amplification predicted increased OS (P < .05). Adjusting for randomized treatment effect and subsequent autologous stem-cell transplantation, there was no difference between TOPO and TOPO/CTX in terms of the proportion alive at 2 years.
TOPO/CTX was superior to TOPO in terms of PFS, but there was no OS difference. After adjustment for subsequent therapies, no difference was detected in the proportion alive at 2 years. Causal inference methods for assessing long-term outcomes of phase II therapies after subsequent treatment can elucidate effects of initial therapies.
Although the prognostic value of the ATP-binding cassette, subfamily C (ABCC) transporters in childhood neuroblastoma is usually attributed to their role in cytotoxic drug efflux, certain observations have suggested that these multidrug transporters might contribute to the malignant phenotype independent of cytotoxic drug efflux.
A v-myc myelocytomatosis viral related oncogene, neuroblastoma derived (MYCN)–driven transgenic mouse neuroblastoma model was crossed with an Abcc1-deficient mouse strain (658 hMYCN1/−, 205 hMYCN+/1 mice) or, alternatively, treated with the ABCC1 inhibitor, Reversan (n = 20). ABCC genes were suppressed using short interfering RNA or overexpressed by stable transfection in neuroblastoma cell lines BE(2)-C, SH-EP, and SH-SY5Y, which were then assessed for wound closure ability, clonogenic capacity, morphological differentiation, and cell growth. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to examine the clinical significance of ABCC family gene expression in a large prospectively accrued cohort of patients (n = 209) with primary neuroblastomas. Kaplan–Meier survival analysis and Cox regression were used to test for associations with event-free and overall survival. Except where noted, all statistical tests were two-sided.
Inhibition of ABCC1 statistically significantly inhibited neuroblastoma development in hMYCN transgenic mice (mean age for palpable tumor: treated mice, 47.2 days; control mice, 41.9 days; hazard ratio [HR] = 9.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.65 to 32; P < .001). Suppression of ABCC1 in vitro inhibited wound closure (P < .001) and clonogenicity (P = .006); suppression of ABCC4 enhanced morphological differentiation (P < .001) and inhibited cell growth (P < .001). Analysis of 209 neuroblastoma patient tumors revealed that, in contrast with ABCC1 and ABCC4, low rather than high ABCC3 expression was associated with reduced event-free survival (HR of recurrence or death = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.4 to 4.2; P = .001), with 23 of 53 patients with low ABCC3 expression experiencing recurrence or death compared with 31 of 155 patients with high ABCC3. Moreover, overexpression of ABCC3 in vitro inhibited neuroblastoma cell migration (P < .001) and clonogenicity (P = .03). The combined expression of ABCC1, ABCC3, and ABCC4 was associated with patients having an adverse event, such that of the 12 patients with the “poor prognosis” expression pattern, 10 experienced recurrence or death (HR of recurrence or death = 12.3, 95% CI = 6 to 27; P < .001).
ABCC transporters can affect neuroblastoma biology independently of their role in chemotherapeutic drug efflux, enhancing their potential as targets for therapeutic intervention.
Preclinical and preliminary clinical data indicate that ch14.18, a monoclonal antibody against the tumor-associated disialoganglioside GD2, has activity against neuroblastoma and that such activity is enhanced when ch14.18 is combined with granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) or interleukin-2. We conducted a study to determine whether adding ch14.18, GM-CSF, and interleukin-2 to standard isotretinoin therapy after intensive multimodal therapy would improve outcomes in high-risk neuroblastoma.
Patients with high-risk neuroblastoma who had a response to induction therapy and stem-cell transplantation were randomly assigned, in a 1:1 ratio, to receive standard therapy (six cycles of isotretinoin) or immunotherapy (six cycles of isotretinoin and five concomitant cycles of ch14.18 in combination with alternating GM-CSF and interleukin-2). Event-free survival and overall survival were compared between the immunotherapy group and the standard-therapy group, on an intention-to-treat basis.
A total of 226 eligible patients were randomly assigned to a treatment group. In the immunotherapy group, a total of 52% of patients had pain of grade 3, 4, or 5, and 23% and 25% of patients had capillary leak syndrome and hypersensitivity reactions, respectively. With 61% of the number of expected events observed, the study met the criteria for early stopping owing to efficacy. The median duration of follow-up was 2.1 years. Immunotherapy was superior to standard therapy with regard to rates of event-free survival (66±5% vs. 46±5% at 2 years, P = 0.01) and overall survival (86±4% vs. 75±5% at 2 years, P = 0.02 without adjustment for interim analyses).
Immunotherapy with ch14.18, GM-CSF, and interleukin-2 was associated with a significantly improved outcome as compared with standard therapy in patients with high-risk neuroblastoma.
Poor outcome in Stage 4 neuroblastoma may be improved with increased dose intensity of therapy. We investigated the feasibility of sequential collection and infusion of peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) as hematopoietic support for non-myeloablative dose intensive induction chemotherapy given every 21-28 days.
Twenty-two children with Stage 4 neuroblastoma (≥ 1yr of age) received 2 cycles of high dose cyclophosphamide (4 gm/m2), doxorubicin (75mg/m2) and vincristine (2mg/m2) followed by 3 cycles of interpatient dose escalating carboplatin (dose level 0 = 800 mg/m2; dose level 1 = 1000 mg/m2), high dose cyclophosphamide (4 gm/m2) and etoposide (600 mg/m2). PBSC were harvested following cycle 2, 3, and 4 in Cohort 1 and infused after each subsequent cycle. In Cohort 2, PBSC were harvested after cycle 2 and split into 3 aliquots for infusion. Dose limiting toxicity (DLT) and ability to administer cycles within 28 days was assessed.
Sufficient PBSC (≥ 2 × 106 CD34 cells/kg per infusion) were collected from 17/21 eligible patients with minimal toxicity and no detectable neuroblastoma cells by immunocytology. Carboplatin at 1000 mg/m2 resulted in DLT of delayed platelet recovery > 28 days in 4/8 patients. Despite de-escalation to 800 mg/m2, platelet DLT occurred in 4/7 Cohort 1 and 3/7 Cohort 2 patients.
As defined in this protocol, doses of carboplatin were not tolerable with the PBSC dose administered. However, it was feasible to collect sufficient PBSC from small neuroblastoma patients to use as hematopoietic support with minimal risk of tumor contamination and toxicity.
neuroblastoma; peripheral blood stem cell support; dose intensity; carboplatin
The survival rate among patients with intermediate-risk neuroblastoma who receive dose-intensive chemotherapy is excellent, but the survival rate among patients who receive reduced doses of chemotherapy for shorter periods of time is not known.
We conducted a prospective, phase 3, nonrandomized trial to determine whether a 3-year estimated overall survival of more than 90% could be maintained with reductions in the duration of therapy and drug doses, using a tumor biology-based therapy assignment. Eligible patients had newly diagnosed, intermediate-risk neuroblastoma without MYCN amplification; these patients included infants (<365 days of age) who had stage 3 or 4 disease, children (≥365 days of age) who had stage 3 tumors with favorable histopathological features, and infants who had stage 4S disease with a diploid DNA index or unfavorable histopathological features. Patients who had disease with favorable histopathological features and hyperdiploidy were assigned to four cycles of chemotherapy, and those with an incomplete response or either unfavorable feature were assigned to eight cycles.
Between 1997 and 2005, a total of 479 eligible patients were enrolled in this trial (270 patients with stage 3 disease, 178 with stage 4 disease, and 31 with stage 4S disease). A total of 323 patients had tumors with favorable biologic features, and 141 had tumors with unfavorable biologic features. Ploidy, but not histopathological features, was significantly predictive of the outcome. Severe adverse events without disease progression occurred in 10 patients (2.1%), including secondary leukemia (in 3 patients), death from infection (in 3 patients), and death at surgery (in 4 patients). The 3-year estimate (±SE) of overall survival for the entire group was 96±1%, with an overall survival rate of 98±1% among patients who had tumors with favorable biologic features and 93±2% among patients who had tumors with unfavorable biologic features.
A very high rate of survival among patients with intermediate-risk neuroblastoma was achieved with a biologically based treatment assignment involving a substantially reduced duration of chemotherapy and reduced doses of chemotherapeutic agents as compared with the regimens used in earlier trials. These data provide support for further reduction in chemotherapy with more refined risk stratification. (Funded by the National Cancer Institute; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00003093.)
The Children’s Oncology Group (COG) is a National Cancer Institute sponsored cooperative clinical trials group with the primary mission of conducting pediatric cancer clinical trials. COG has complex risk classification systems that are used to deliver risk-stratified therapy for many pediatric cances, including clinical trials for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and Neuroblastoma (NB). Classification of patients is based on biological, clinical, and genomic data obtained at initial diagnosis and during the initial phases of therapy. The COG web-based remote data entry (RDE) system enables submission of data in real time from central laboratories and treating institutions. The data are then used in an automated fashion to determine the risk group and corresponding treatment assignment for individual patients enrolled in COG clinical trials.
The International Neuroblastoma Pathology Classification (INPC) was the first to clearly define prognostic subgroups in ganglioneuroma (GN) and ganglioneuroblastoma (GNB).
Histopathology and tumor resectability of 552 GN/GNB cases from the CCG (Children’s Cancer Group) and COG (Children’s Oncology Group) neuroblastoma studies were reviewed. The results were analyzed along with clinical information and biological data of the cases.
According to the INPC, 300 tumors were classified into the Favorable Histology (FH) group and 252 were into the Unfavorable Histology (UH) group. Tumors in the FH group included 43 ganglioneuroma-maturing (GN-M), 198 ganglioneuroblastoma-intermixed (GNB-I), and 59 ganglioneuroblastoma-nodular, favorable subset (GNB-N-FS), and were often (91%) resected completely by single or multiple surgical procedures. Patients with the FH tumors had an excellent prognosis with no tumor-related deaths. The UH group included ganglioneuroblastoma-nodular, unfavorable subset (GNB-N-US) tumors. Patients with the UH tumors had a high incidence (53%) of distant metastasis at the time of diagnosis, and their prognosis significantly depended on clinical stage (5-year EFS: 80.1% for non-stage 4 patients; 16.7% for stage 4 patients): Complete primary tumor resection was not beneficial to those GNB-N-US patients, regardless of whether metastasis was present or not. MYCN amplification was detected in 4 tumors in the FH group and 6 tumors in the UH group. The majority (160/191, 84%) of GN-M and GNB-I tumors had a diploid pattern determined by flow cytometry.
Stringent application of the INPC along with clinical staging was critical for prognostic evaluation of the patients with this group of tumors.
Ganglioneuroma; Ganglioneuroblastoma; International Neuroblastoma Pathology Classification; Clinical Staging; Tumor Resectability; Prognosis
MYCN oncogene amplification has been defined as the most important prognostic factor for neuroblastoma, the most common solid extracranial neoplasm in children. High copy numbers are strongly associated with rapid tumor progression and poor outcome, independently of tumor stage or patient age, and this has become an important factor in treatment stratification.
By Real Time Quantitative PCR analysis, we evaluated the clinical relevance of circulating MYCN DNA of 267 patients with locoregional or metastatic neuroblastoma in children less than 18 months of age.
For patients in this age group with INSS stage 4 or 4S NB and stage 3 patients, serum-based determination of MYCN DNA sequences had good sensitivity (85%, 83% and 75% respectively) and high specificity (100%) when compared to direct tumor gene determination. In contrast, the approach showed low sensitivity patients with stage 1 and 2 disease.
Our results show that the sensitivity of the serum-based MYCN DNA sequence determination depends on the stage of the disease. However, this simple, reproducible assay may represent a reasonably sensitive and very specific tool to assess tumor MYCN status in cases with stage 3 and metastatic disease for whom a wait and see strategy is often recommended.
Circulating DNA; MYCN amplification; neuroblastoma
Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer of the sympathetic nervous system and many patients present with high risk disease. Risk stratification, based on pathology and tumor-derived biomarkers, has improved prediction of clinical outcomes, but overall survival rates remain unfavorable and new therapeutic targets are needed. Some studies suggest a link between interleukin-6 and more aggressive behavior in neuroblastoma tumor cells. Therefore, we examined the impact of two IL-6 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) on neuroblastoma disease progression.
DNA samples from 96 high risk neuroblastoma patients were screened for two SNP that are known to regulate the serum levels of IL-6 and the soluble IL-6 receptor (IL-6R), rs1800795 and rs8192284 respectively. The genotype for each SNP was determined in a blinded fashion and independent statistical analysis was performed to determine SNP-related event free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) rates.
The rs1800795 IL-6 promoter SNP is an independent prognostic factor for EFS and OS in -high risk neuroblastoma patients. In contrast, the rs8192284 IL-6 receptor SNP revealed no prognostic value.
The rs1800795 SNP (-174 IL-6 (G>C) represents a novel and independent prognostic marker for both EFS and OS in high risk neuroblastoma. Since the rs1800795 SNP (-174 IL-6 (G>C) has been shown to correlate with production of IL-6, this cytokine may represent a target for development of new therapies in neuroblastoma.
We assessed the long-term outcome of patients enrolled on CCG-3891, a high-risk neuroblastoma study in which patients were randomly assigned to undergo autologous purged bone marrow transplantation (ABMT) or to receive chemotherapy, and subsequent treatment with 13-cis-retinoic acid (cis-RA).
Patients and Methods
Patients received the same induction chemotherapy, with random assignment (N = 379) to consolidation with myeloablative chemotherapy, total-body irradiation, and ABMT versus three cycles of intensive chemotherapy. Patients who completed consolidation without disease progression were randomly assigned to receive no further therapy or cis-RA for 6 months.
The event-free survival (EFS) for patients randomly assigned to ABMT was significantly higher than those randomly assigned to chemotherapy; the 5-year EFS (mean ± SE) was 30% ± 4% versus 19% ± 3%, respectively (P = .04). The 5-year EFS (42% ± 5% v 31% ± 5%) from the time of second random assignment was higher for cis-RA than for no further therapy, though it was not significant. Overall survival (OS) was significantly higher for each random assignment by a test of the log(−log(.)) transformation of the survival estimates at 5 years (P < .01). The 5-year OS from the second random assignment of patients who underwent both random assignments and who were assigned to ABMT/cis-RA was 59% ± 8%; for ABMT/no cis-RA, it was 41% ± 7%; for continuing chemotherapy/cis-RA, it was 38% ± 7%; and for chemotherapy/no cis-RA, it was 36% ± 7%.
Myeloablative therapy and autologous hematopoietic cell rescue result in significantly better 5-year EFS and OS than nonmyeloablative chemotherapy; cis-RA given after consolidation independently results in significantly improved OS.
Treatment of patients with localized neuroblastoma with unfavorable biologic features is controversial. To evaluate the outcome of children with low-stage MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma and develop a rational treatment strategy, data from the International Neuroblastoma Risk Group (INRG) database were analyzed.
Patients and Methods
The database is comprised of 8,800 patients. Of these, 2,660 patients (30%) had low-stage (International Neuroblastoma Staging System stages 1 and 2) neuroblastoma, known MYCN status, and available follow-up data. Eighty-seven of these patients (3%) had MYCN amplified tumors.
Patients with MYCN-amplified, low-stage tumors had less favorable event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) than did patients with nonamplified tumors (53% ± 8% and 72% ± 7% v 90% ± 1% and 98% ± 1%, respectively). EFS and OS were statistically significantly higher for patients whose tumors were hyperdiploid rather than diploid (EFS, 82% ± 20% v 37% ± 21%; P = .0069; OS, 94% ± 11% v 54% ± 15%; P = .0056, respectively). No other variable had prognostic significance. Initial treatment consisted of surgery alone for 29 (33%) of 87 patients. Details of additional therapy were unknown for 14 patients. Twenty-two patients (25%) underwent surgery and moderate-intensity chemotherapy; another 22 underwent surgery, intensive chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Nine of the latter 22 underwent stem cell transplantation. Survival in patients who received transplantation did not differ from survival in those who did not receive transplantation.
Among patients with low-stage, MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma, outcomes of patients with hyperdiploid tumors were statistically, significantly better than those with diploid tumors. The data suggest that tumor cell ploidy could potentially be used to identify candidates for reductions in therapy. Further study of MYCN-amplified, low-stage neuroblastoma is warranted.
The International Neuroblastoma Risk Group (INRG) classification system was developed to establish a consensus approach for pretreatment risk stratification. Because the International Neuroblastoma Staging System (INSS) is a postsurgical staging system, a new clinical staging system was required for the INRG pretreatment risk classification system.
To stage patients before any treatment, the INRG Task Force, consisting of neuroblastoma experts from Australia/New Zealand, China, Europe, Japan, and North America, developed a new INRG staging system (INRGSS) based on clinical criteria and image-defined risk factors (IDRFs). To investigate the impact of IDRFs on outcome, survival analyses were performed on 661 European patients with INSS stages 1, 2, or 3 disease for whom IDRFs were known.
In the INGRSS, locoregional tumors are staged L1 or L2 based on the absence or presence of one or more of 20 IDRFs, respectively. Metastatic tumors are defined as stage M, except for stage MS, in which metastases are confined to the skin, liver, and/or bone marrow in children younger than 18 months of age. Within the 661-patient cohort, IDRFs were present (ie, stage L2) in 21% of patients with stage 1, 45% of patients with stage 2, and 94% of patients with stage 3 disease. Patients with INRGSS stage L2 disease had significantly lower 5-year event-free survival than those with INRGSS stage L1 disease (78% ± 4% v 90% ± 3%; P = .0010).
Use of the new staging (INRGSS) and risk classification (INRG) of neuroblastoma will greatly facilitate the comparison of risk-based clinical trials conducted in different regions of the world.