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Keywords:

  • ICE regimen;
  • neuroblastoma;
  • temozolomide;
  • topotecan

Children affected by advanced neuroblastoma have a discouraging prognosis, but intensive induction chemotherapy may increase the complete response rate. The combination of ifosfamide, carboplatin and etoposide (ICE) was used for the first time as front-line regimen in patients with stage 4 neuroblastoma over the age of 1 y. Similarly, second-line treatment for children with relapsed neuroblastoma, particularly after high-dose chemotherapy, has been unsatisfactory. The combination of topotecan and cyclophosphamide was studied in resistant or relapsed solid tumors. Furthermore, there is a need for effective palliative treatment in patients failing therapy. Temozolomide, a new dacarbazine analog with optimal oral bioavailability, is being used in an ongoing phase II study as an alternative to oral etoposide. Seventeen patients with stage 4 neuroblastoma have entered the ICE study; 15/16 (94%) major responses after induction were observed and 6/16 (37%) evaluable patients are disease free after a median of 51 mo. Twenty-one patients with relapsed/refractory disease (of whom 13 neuroblastomas) entered the topotecan/cyclophosphamide study: 7/21 (33%) patients responded. Forty-one patients entered the temozolomide study (of whom 16 had neuroblastomas): stable disease and symptom relief were obtained in 15/30 (50%) evaluable patients. Intensive induction with ICE resulted in a faster response with high response rate; a larger study with longer follow-up is needed to confirm a survival advantage. Second-line treatment was effective in obtaining remissions, some of them long lasting. Third-line treatment did not elicit measurable responses in neuroblastoma, but achieved prolonged freedom from disease progression and excellent palliation in several patients.