Maintenance chemo boosts survival for youth with high-risk rhabdomyosarcoma



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– Maintenance chemotherapy is life-prolonging for youth with high-risk rhabdomyosarcoma, finds a trial of 371 patients aged 0 to 21 years who had completed standard intensive therapy.

The 5-year rate of overall survival was 86.5% for those who received maintenance therapy with the combination of low-dose intravenous vinorelbine and oral cyclophosphamide, compared with 73.7% for those who did not, translating to a near halving of the risk of death (hazard ratio, 0.52; P = .0111). The regimen was well tolerated. The findings represent the first treatment advance for this rare cancer in 30 years.

In an interview at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, lead study author Gianni Bisogno, MD, PhD, discussed the risk-benefit profile of maintenance chemotherapy and the practice-changing nature of the new data. Dr. Bisogno, a professor at the University Hospital of Padova in Italy and chair of the European Paediatric Soft tissue Sarcoma Study Group, also described plans for a new trial that will explore alternate maintenance schedules and collaboration with colleagues in North America to further improve pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma outcomes.

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