Metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma with exclusive distant lymph node involvement: A European Pediatric Soft tissue sarcoma Study Group (EpSSG) report

Mercolini F, Merks JHM, Minard-Colin V, Cameron A, Terwisscha van Scheltinga S, Sher O, Fichera G, Orbach D, Glosli H, Coppadoro B, Gallego S, Chisholm J, Bisogno G. Pediatr Blood Cancer
. 2022 Dec 15;e30143. doi: 10.1002/pbc.30143.

Background: The prognosis of patients with metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is not uniformly poor. Tumors with nodal involvement beyond the first lymph node station are currently considered to have distant metastases. The aim of this study is to evaluate the characteristics and outcome of RMS patients with distal nodal involvement as the only site of metastasis.

Methods: This study included all patients with a diagnosis of RMS and distant nodal involvement as the only metastatic site, enrolled in the European Pediatric Soft tissue sarcoma Study Group (EpSSG) protocols. Treatment comprised chemotherapy, surgery, and/or radiotherapy. The main outcome measures were event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS).

Results: A total of 22 patients (median age 7.1 years, range 1.4-16.7) fit the inclusion criteria. The extremities were the most common primary tumor site (59%). Twenty-one patients had regional and distant nodal involvement, 12 were PAX3/7-FOXO1 positive. Twenty patients had radiotherapy including 16 to the nodal metastatic area. After a median follow-up of 53.9 months (range 22.8-110.5), 15 patients remain in complete remission, seven had progressive disease or relapse, and six of them died. The 3-year EFS and OS were 67.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 42.9-82.9) and 71.9% (95% CI: 47.7-86.3), respectively. Patients with fusion-negative tumors had better outcomes than those with fusion-positive tumors (3-year EFS 100% vs. 46.6%; p = .04).

Conclusion: In our experience, patients with RMS and distant lymph node involvement as the only site of metastasis present an outcome superior than other metastatic patients and comparable to patients with locoregional nodal involvement. In particular, excellent outcomes were seen in the limited number of patients with fusion-negative tumors.

Keywords: EpSSG; children; nodal extension; rhabdomyosarcoma; staging.