Langerhans cell histiocytosis is an infrequent and enigmatic proliferative disorder hat commonly presents in the head and neck region. This is an analysis of 77 patients with Langerhans cell histiocytosis treated at Children's Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute from 1974 through 1993. The study focused on clinical findings, anatomic location and extent of disease, therapy, and outcome. The patients were, on average, under 5 years age at initial presentation. Over 62 percent of the patients had signs and symptoms referred to the craniofacial skeleton. Osteolytic lesions of the cranium were the most common, followed, in frequency, by scalp rash, osteolytic mandibular tumor(s), enlarged nodes, and gingival swelling or ulceration. Single bony lesions usually were treated with curettage or radiotherapy. Chemotherapy was used commonly for advanced disease with multifocal or disseminated presentation. Initial therapy included moderate doses of single agents; other agents were added if no response was achieved. The natural history of Langerhans cell histiocytosis varied from an acute fulminant course, a waxing and waning chronic disease, to spontaneous regression. Young age at presentation and organ dysfunction predicted a poor prognosis. Statistical analysis showed that there was no significant relationship between outcome and extent of skeletal involvement when controlling for age or organ dysfunction.
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