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Quantitative tumor cell content of bone marrow and blood as a predictor of outcome in stage IV neuroblastoma: a Children's Cancer Group Study.

Author(s): Seeger RC, Reynolds CP, Gallego R, Stram DO, Gerbing RB, Matthay KK

Affiliation(s): Department of Pediatrics, University of Southern California School of Medicine and Childrens Hospital, Los Angeles, USA. rseeger@chla.usc.edu

Publication date & source: 2000-12-15, J Clin Oncol., 18(24):4067-76.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Clinical Trial, Phase III; Multicenter Study; Randomized Controlled Trial

PURPOSE: This study investigated the prognostic value of quantifying tumor cells in bone marrow and blood by immunocytology in children with high-risk, metastatic neuroblastoma. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with stage IV neuroblastoma (N = 466) registered on Children's Cancer Group study 3891 received five cycles of induction chemotherapy and were randomized either to myeloablative chemoradiotherapy with autologous purged bone marrow rescue or to nonmyeloablative chemotherapy. Subsequently, they were randomized to 13-cis-retinoic acid or no further treatment. Immunocytologic analyses of bone marrow and blood were performed at diagnosis, week 4, week 12, bone marrow collection, and end induction and were correlated with tumor biology, clinical variables, treatment regimen, and event-free survival (EFS). RESULTS: Immunocytology identified neuroblastoma cells in bone marrow of 81% at diagnosis, 55% at 4 weeks, 27% at 12 weeks, 19% at bone marrow collection, and 14% at end induction. Tumor cells were detected in blood of 58% at diagnosis and 5% at collection. There was an adverse effect on EFS of increasing tumor cell concentration in bone marrow at diagnosis (P =.04), at 12 weeks (P =.006), at bone marrow collection (P <.001), and at end induction (P =.07). Positive blood immunocytology at diagnosis was associated with decreased EFS (P: =.003). The prognostic impact of immunocytology was independent of morphologically detected bone marrow disease, MYCN status, and serum ferritin level in bivariate Cox analyses. CONCLUSION: Immunocytologic quantification of neuroblastoma cells in bone marrow and blood at diagnosis and in bone marrow during induction chemotherapy provides prognostic information that can identify patients with very high-risk disease who should be considered for experimental therapy that might improve outcome.

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