BACKGROUND: Cytotoxic chemotherapy can achieve a good initial response in inoperable desmoid tumors that have caused progressive obstruction of the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts and have caused unrelenting pain. METHODS: We have reviewed 8 patients (3 male) with desmoid tumors and familial adenomatous polyposis who underwent cytotoxic chemotherapy for inoperable gastrointestinal obstruction and/or uncontrolled pain. They were treated with doxorubicin and dacarbazine followed by carboplatin and dacarbazine. RESULTS: Follow-up after cytotoxic chemotherapy in the 7 patients for whom it was available was a mean of 42 (range 24-54) months. Two patients achieved complete remission after therapy. Four patients achieved a partial remission after completing all or some of the chemotherapy regimen; of these, three remained in stable remission, whereas the other was lost to follow-up. There were two recurrences that required further therapy; one of these patients was treated with further chemotherapy, which induced a second remission, and the other was treated with pelvic exenteration and has subsequently died. CONCLUSIONS: Most patients had a substantial response to cytotoxic chemotherapy; however, two patients required additional therapy 24 and 30 months after cytotoxic chemotherapy, respectively. Cytotoxic chemotherapy is effective in producing short-term and long-term remission in these difficult patients.
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