Study presents potential new treatment options for pediatric neuroblastoma patients


HOUSTON - April 27, 2012 - A nationwide study led by Dr. Jed Nuchtern, chief of the division of pediatric surgery at Texas Children's Hospital, a pediatric surgeon with Texas Children's Cancer Center and professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, found that the majority of infants with a particular form of neuroblastoma - a childhood tumor that often requires intensive chemotherapy and surgery - excel in their overall progress and survival when the tumor is monitored without surgical resection.

The results of the study will be presented at the American Surgical Association's 132nd annual meeting being held in San Francisco from April 26 to 28.

In this 10-year study, surgeons and oncologists who identified babies less than 6 months of age with a small tumor suggestive of neuroblastoma were given the option of immediate surgery or monitoring the baby carefully via ultrasound and urine tests. Overall, 87 babies who had tumors found either prenatally or before 6 months of age were entered into the study.

Of the 87 babies, only four underwent surgery immediately - all of whom did well - while 83 were followed carefully for at least 15 months. Of the group that was followed, 16 children had surgery due to changes on one of the screening studies with eight found to have stage one neuroblastoma and only two with higher stages. There were no tumors that required additional intensive chemotherapy.

Most importantly, the three-year overall survival for the 83 babies who were followed by observation was 100 percent with median follow-up now of three years. Overall, 81 percent of these young babies on the observation arm were spared the need for surgery. The results of this study reveal that it is safe to carefully observe babies - specifically infants less than 6 months of age - who have a special, small isolated neuroblastoma tumor.

The investigators are now planning a study that will expand to include patients who are 1 years old at diagnosis and who have larger neuroblastoma tumors. The study was sponsored by the Children's Oncology Group and included participation by more than 100 physicians from more than 75 pediatric programs across the United States and Canada, including Texas Children's Cancer Center.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.