Background: Olfactory neuroblastoma is a rare sino-nasal tumor arising from the olfactory epithelium and is often characterized by local invasion or metastasis. The role of chemotherapy in the treatment of this tumor is unclear. The purpose of this study was to review our institution's experience of chemotherapy for advanced or recurrent olfactory neuroblastoma. Methods: Twenty-one patients with histologically proven olfactory neuroblastoma were treated at our institution between 1992 and 2002. Twelve of these patients received chemotherapy in the setting of unresectable or recurrent disease and were retrospectively reviewed for clinical characteristics, treatment outcome or survival. Results: Eight patients of the 12 patients received cisplatin-based chemotherapy and the remaining four patients received chemotherapy consisting of docetaxel plus irinotecan (three patients) or cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and vincristine (1 patient). A partial response was achieved in five patients, with an overall response rate of 42%, although the chemotherapeutic regimens were heterogeneous. Two partial responses were obtained among the three patients who received docetaxel plus irinotecan. The response rate to chemotherapy was 83% in the younger age group (<40 years), as opposed to 0% in the older age group (≥40 years), and the difference between the two groups was statistically significant (P = 0.02). Conclusion: Our study indicated that olfactory neuroblastoma would be sensitive to chemotherapy, especially with young patients. Docetaxel plus irinotecan has the possibility of showing favorable response, and warrants further investigation.
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