A systematic review of early phase studies for children and young people with relapsed and refractory rhabdomyosarcoma: The REFoRMS-SR project

Connor Evans, Lucy Shepherd, Gemma Bryan, Helen Fulbright, Scott Crowther, Sara Wakeling, Andy Stewart, Claire Stewart, Julia Chisholm, Faith Gibson, Bob Phillips, Jessica E Morgan

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Rhabdomyosarcoma is the commonest soft tissue sarcoma in children. Around one-third of children with rhabdomyosarcoma experience relapse or have refractory disease, which is associated with a poor prognosis. This systematic review of early phase studies in pediatric relapsed/refractory rhabdomyosarcoma was conducted to inform future research and provide accurate information to families and clinicians making difficult treatment choices. Nine databases and five trial registries were searched in June 2021. Early phase studies of interventions for disease control in patients under 18 years old with relapsed/refractory rhabdomyosarcoma were eligible. No language/geographic restrictions were applied. Studies conducted after 2000 were included. Survival outcomes, response rates, quality of life and adverse event data were extracted. Screening, data extraction and quality assessment (Downs and Black Checklist) were conducted by two researchers. Owing to heterogeneity in the included studies, narrative synthesis was conducted. Of 16,965 records screened, 129 published studies including over 1100 relapsed/refractory rhabdomyosarcoma patients were eligible. Most studies evaluated systemic therapies. Where reported, 70% of studies reported a median progression-free survival ≤6 months. Objective response rate was 21.6%. Adverse events were mostly hematological. One-hundred and seven trial registry records of 99 studies were also eligible, 63 of which report they are currently recruiting. Study quality was limited by poor and inconsistent reporting. Outcomes for children with relapsed/refractory rhabdomyosarcoma who enroll on early phase studies are poor. Improving reporting quality and consistency would facilitate the synthesis of early phase studies in relapsed/refractory rhabdomyosarcoma (PROSPERO registration: CRD42021266254).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Early online date10 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2023

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© 2023 The Authors. International Journal of Cancer published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of UICC.

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