Over 50% of patients with newly diagnosed rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) are in the 'intermediate risk' group with a 3-year progression-free survival of approximately 65%. This group consists of stage 1, group III, non-orbit tumours; stage 2, group II and III; and all stage 3 patients utilising the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study (IRS) staging system. The role of doxorubicin in the treatment of RMS has been controversial. Ifosfamide, both alone and in combination with etoposide, has significant activity in patients with RMS. The aim of this pilot study was to examine the efficacy and toxicity of a chemotherapy regimen of alternating cycles of vincristine/doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide and etoposide/ifosfamide for intermediate risk RMS. 30 patients with intermediate risk RMS or undifferentiated sarcoma (US) were treated with alternating cycles of vincristine/doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (VDC) and etoposide/ifosfamide (EI) at planned intervals of 3 weeks. Local treatment of the tumour in most cases was performed after four cycles of chemotherapy, followed by an additional 10 cycles of chemotherapy. At a median follow-up of 37.5 months, the Kaplan- Meier estimate of 3-year event-free survival was 85% (95% confidence interval 72-99%). The overall survival at 3 years was 91% (95% confidence interval 80- 100%). No patient died from toxicity. The most common toxicity was febrile neutropenia in 35% of VDC and 26% of El cycles. No nephrotoxicity or cardiac toxicity was seen. No patient progressed prior to week 12 local therapy. Alternating cycles of VDC and EI are an effective treatment for patients with intermediate risk RMS and US. Toxicity is tolerable. Delaying local treatment until week 12 does not compromise outcome.
- Cyclophosphamid e