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Unusual Cancers of Childhood Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Abdominal Cancers

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Prognostic factors

In patients with localized disease, age between 0 and 3 years, virilization alone, normal blood pressure, disease stage I, absence of spillage during surgery, and tumor weight no greater than 200 grams were associated with a greater probability of survival. In a Cox regression model analysis, only stage I, virilization alone, and age 0 to 3 years were independently associated with a better outcome.[3] Available data suggest that tumor size is especially important in children; patients with small tumors have an excellent outcome with surgery alone, regardless of histologic features.[25] The overall probability of 5-year survival for children with adrenocortical tumors is reported to be 54% to 74%.[3,9,10,24,25]

Treatment of adrenocortical tumors

At the time of diagnosis, two-thirds of pediatric patients have limited disease (tumors can be completely resected), and the remaining patients have either unresectable or metastatic disease.[3]

Treatment of childhood adrenocortical tumors has evolved from the data derived from the adult studies, and the same guidelines are used; surgery is the most important mode of therapy, and mitotane and cisplatin-based regimens, usually incorporating doxorubicin and etoposide, are recommended for patients with advanced disease.[7,26,27] An aggressive surgical approach of the primary tumor and all metastatic sites is recommended when feasible.[28,29] Because of tumor friability, rupture of the capsule with resultant tumor spillage is frequent (approximately 20% of initial resections and 43% of resections after recurrence).[3,10] When the diagnosis of adrenocortical tumor is suspected, laparotomy and a curative procedure are recommended rather than fine-needle aspiration, to avoid the risk of tumor rupture.[29,30] Laparoscopic resection is associated with a high risk of rupture and peritoneal carcinomatosis; thus, open adrenalectomy remains the standard of care.[31]

Little information is available about the use of mitotane in children, although response rates appear to be similar to those seen in adults.[1,26] A retrospective analysis in Italy and Germany identified 177 adult patients with adrenocortical carcinoma. Recurrence-free survival was significantly prolonged by the use of adjuvant mitotane. Benefit was present with 1 to 3 g per day of mitotane and was associated with fewer toxic side effects than doses of 3 to 5 g per day.[32] In a review of 11 children with advanced adrenocortical tumors treated with mitotane and a cisplatin-based chemotherapeutic regimen, measurable responses were seen in seven patients. The mitotane daily dose required for therapeutic levels was around 4 g/m2, and therapeutic levels were achieved after 4 to 6 months of therapy.[26]

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