The Role of Pharmacotherapeutic Agents in Children with Desmoid Tumors

Document Type


Publication Date



Pharmacy, Pediatrics

Journal Title

Paediatric drugs


Desmoid tumors (DT) are rare fibroblastic, soft-tissue tumors that do not metastasize but can aggressively infiltrate tissues causing significant chronic discomfort and/or functional impairment. In the pediatric population, the incidence of DT is greatest during infancy and adolescence but can occur at any age. Dysregulated β-catenin, most commonly resulting from mutations in either CTNNB1 or germline APC (adenomatous polyposis coli) drives DT. Most cases are sporadic but some are associated with predisposition syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). Historically, treatment has been surgery. However, the recurrence rate after surgery can be high. Various systemic cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens used in other soft-tissue sarcomas have been applied to DT with differing results. Given the chronic and rarely life-threatening nature of this disease and the potential short- and long-term toxicity of these regimens, especially in children, alternative non-cytotoxic interventions have been investigated. Molecularly targeted agents such as tyrosine kinase and gamma secretase inhibitors have shown activity against DT. Innovative local control therapies are being employed as alternatives to surgery and radiation. Periods of prolonged stability and spontaneous regression in the absence of therapy in some patients has prompted wider adoption of an upfront active surveillance approach in the appropriate setting. This review will briefly summarize the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and clinical presentation of DT in children, then focus on historical, current, and future pharmacotherapeutic management and finally, propose areas for future study.