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. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.