Tumors in the Ewing family (EFTs) are the second most common bone tumors in children and adolescents. Despite aggressive chemotherapy, one-third of patients with localized tumor still may develop recurrences. This implies that not all tumor cells are eradicated and that the patients may have a level of residual disease. EFTs are characterized by specific chromosomal translocations that result in chimeric transcripts that can be detected with reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis.
The authors report the prognostic potential of the positive chimeric transcript (EWS/FLI1) in bone marrow (BM) and/or peripheral blood (PBL) in 26 patients with EFT during a long follow-up period (median, 61 months).
At diagnosis, 43% of patients had positive RT-PCR BM results, with no correlation to tumor progression (P = 0.3). During follow-up, 58% of patients had positive RT-PCR results in their last sample analyzed (BM and/or PBL). A highly significant correlation between the presence of the chimeric transcript and disease progression was detected (P = 0.0028). In a multivariate analysis, the percentage of tumor necrosis (P = 0.007) and RT-PCR results during follow-up (P = 0.02) remained significant prognostic markers. In 10 of 11 patients who developed disease progression, BM and/or PBL samples were positive for the chimeric transcript before evidence of overt clinical recurrence.
Occult tumor cells in BM and/or PBL samples during long follow-up are strong predictors of recurrent disease in patients with nonmetastatic EFTs. Cancer 2004;100:1053–8. © 2004 American Cancer Society.