Superior vena cava syndrome associated with childhood malignancy: analysis of 24 cases

L Ingram, G K Rivera, D N Shapiro
Medical and Pediatric Oncology 1990, 18 (6): 476-81
Twenty-four children with superior vena cava obstruction at initial presentation or associated with disease recurrence were treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital from 1973 to 1988. Of the 16 patients with superior vena cava syndrome at presentation, eight had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, four had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, two had Hodgkin's disease, one had neuroblastoma, and one had a yolk sac tumor. Their clinical condition at presentation was often critical and required rapid treatment. In all cases, histopathologic diagnosis was obtained without complication by either bone marrow aspiration, lymph node biopsy, thoracentesis, or thoracotomy prior to the initiation of definitive therapy. Eight children had superior vena cava syndrome as a late complication during the course of their therapy. None had an antecedent history of superior vena cava obstruction. In contrast to the patients with superior vena cava obstruction at presentation, this group was composed predominantly of patients with recurrent solid tumors. Other causes included disseminated candidiasis and superior vena cava thrombosis, thus underscoring the importance of recognizing the etiology of superior vena cava syndrome to facilitate proper treatment.

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