Medline: 9060563

The abstract Journal of Clinical Oncology 15(3): 1190-1197, 1997. is available online.

The fulltext Journal of Clinical Oncology 15(3): 1190-1197, 1997. may be available online for subscribers.

Timing and magnitude of decline in alpha-fetoprotein levels in treated children with unresectable or metastatic hepatoblastoma are predictors of outcome: a report from the Children's Cancer Group.

Van Tornout JM, Buckley JD, Quinn JJ, et al.


We analyzed data on 31 children with primary unresectable or metastatic hepatoblastoma (HB) to investigate possible prognostic correlations between the serum level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), its changes during treatment, and outcome.

Patients and Methods:
Patients were treated according to the Children's Cancer Group (CCG) protocol 823F, which included an initial surgery before eight courses of chemotherapy that consisted of cisplatin immediately followed by a continuous infusion of doxorubicin. Four courses were given before and four after the second surgery. AFP levels were measured before treatment, before and after second surgery, and at the end of treatment.

Twenty-four of 31 patients showed a decline of > or = 1 log in AFP levels before second surgery (early responders). By the end of treatment, there were 16 patients, all early responders, without clinical or radiographic evidence of tumor and with normal AFP levels. Fifteen of those 16 had a decline of > or = 2 logs in AFP before second surgery (large early response). Of the 15 patients who failed to respond to treatment, 10 died, among whom only one patient had a large early response. A large early response was the strongest independent predictor of outcome in a univariate and multivariate Cox regression model, and patients with such a response had the best survival (P < .0001).

For children with unresectable or metastatic HB, early changes in AFP levels are a reliable predictor of outcome and can be used for identification of poor responders to treatment, ie, patients whose AFP level fails to decrease 2 logs before second surgery should be considered for alternative treatment.

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Dr. G. Quade