A systematic review of combined surgery and brachytherapy approaches for children and young people with relapsed and refractory rhabdomyosarcoma (Local-REFoRMS)

Euan Ballantyne, Connor Evans, Lucy Shepherd, Helen Fulbright, Sara Wakeling, Bob Phillips, Jessica E Morgan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Approximately one third of children with rhabdomyosarcoma relapse or have refractory disease. Treatment approaches include a combination of systemic therapies and local therapies, directed at tumour site(s). This review was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the combination of surgery and brachytherapy as local therapy for treating children and young people with relapsed/refractory rhabdomyosarcoma. This review identified studies based on a previous systematic review looking at the treatments for children and young people under 18 years old with relapsed/refractory rhabdomyosarcoma. Studies conducted after 2000 were included. Survival outcomes, relapse rates, adverse events and functional outcomes were extracted. From 16,965 records identified in the baseline systematic review, 205 included the words 'AMORE' or 'brachytherapy', and were screened for eligibility in this substudy. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria for Local-REFoRMS, including over 55 relapsed and refractory rhabdomyosarcoma patients. Most studies were retrospective cohort studies conducted within Europe. Most patients had embryonal disease within the head and neck or bladder/prostate regions, and received local therapy for first relapse. Approximately one quarter of patients relapsed following surgery and brachytherapy, with local relapses occurring more than metastatic relapse. Adverse events and functional outcomes were infrequently reported, but related to the site of surgery and brachytherapy. Study quality was limited by inconsistent reporting and potential selection bias. Outcomes following surgery and brachytherapy for a selected group of relapsed and refractory rhabdomyosarcoma show reasonable benefits, but reporting was often unclear and based on small sample sizes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30952
Number of pages10
JournalPediatric blood & cancer
Early online date2 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2024

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© 2024 The Authors. Pediatric Blood & Cancer published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

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