Effective therapy of a vascular tumor of infancy with vincristine

J Moore, M Lee, M Garzon, S Soffer, E Kim, R Saouaf, G del Toro, D Yamashiro, J Kandel
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2001, 36 (8): 1273-6
Vascular tumors are common in infancy, affecting as many as 10% of children. These lesions often follow a benign course, with an initial proliferative phase followed by spontaneous involution, and require no therapy. Others manifest explosive early growth and Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon, requiring therapeutic intervention. Occasionally, some bulky tumors threaten life or vision because of mass effect, also mandating intervention. Steroids are the mainstay of therapy, but often are ineffective. Interferon alpha (2a and 2b) has been used as second-line therapy in cases of steroid failure. However, interferon therapy has been associated with a significant incidence of spastic diplegia. The authors present the case of a 3-month-old girl in whom respiratory distress secondary to tracheal compression developed. Magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance angiography showed a large cervicothoracic lesion encasing the great vessels and displacing the airway. She did not display associated Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon. The lesion proved refractory to standard steroid therapy, but responded dramatically to 4 cycles of vincristine (0.05 mg/kg). Although this agent has been used in children with life-threatening Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon, this is the first time it has been described in the setting of compromised vital function. Vinca alkaloids recently have been shown to have potent antiangiogenic activities in experimental models. Given the low predicted incidence of side effects at this dose, vincristine used as an antiangiogenic agent may prove an attractive alternative therapy for patients with life-threatening vascular tumors of infancy.

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