Ascending myelitis after intensive chemotherapy and radiation therapy in children with cranial parameningeal sarcoma

Beverly Raney, Melvin Tefft, Ruth Heyn, William Newton, Patricia Morris Jones, Veronica Haeberlen, Harold Maurer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


In 1977, a program of early, wide‐field radiation therapy (RT) to the central nervous system and repeated lumbar intrathecal (IT) medications along with systemic chemotherapy was begun by the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study (IRS) for patients younger than 21 years of age with cranial parameningeal sarcoma and a high risk of meningeal extension. From 1977 until 1987, 149 eligible patients with high‐risk cranial parameningeal sarcoma were enrolled in IRS trials. None had evidence of lower extremity or sphincter impairment at diagnosis. Five of the 149 (3.4%) had ascending myelitis at 5.5 to 9 months after the initiation of therapy, with loss of sphincter control and inability to walk; this progressed to severe flaccid quadriparesis and necessitated longterm ventilatory support in 4. All five had received vincristine, dactinomycin, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin; four also had received cisplatin and three also had received etoposide. All patients received 4770 to 5500 cGy to the primary tumor, and four patients received 3000 cGy of cranial RT. Three patients received cervical RT and two received spinal RT. The patients also received four to seven courses of IT methotrexate, hydrocortisone, and cytosine arabinoside. Three patients died: one after local tumor recurrence with central nervous system extension and two without known recurrence. In one of the latter patients, the results of an autopsy showed necrosis of the cervical spinal cord and caudal medulla. Although the exact cause of this complication is unclear, no additional cases have been reported to the IRS since the protocol was revised in 1987 to reduce the doses of the IT drugs and to limit them to four courses each. Cancer 1992; 69:1498‐1506.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1506
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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