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Childhood Midline Tract Carcinoma Involving the NUT Gene (NUT Midline Carcinoma) Treatment (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version

Molecular Features

NUT midline carcinoma is a very rare and aggressive malignancy genetically defined by rearrangements of the NUT gene. In most cases (75%), the NUT gene on chromosome 15q14 is fused with the BRD4 gene on chromosome 19p13, creating chimeric genes that encode the BRD-NUT fusion proteins. In the remaining cases, NUT is fused to BRD3 on chromosome 9q34 or to NSD3 on chromosome 8p11;[1] these tumors are termed NUT-variant.[2]

References
  1. French CA, Rahman S, Walsh EM, et al.: NSD3-NUT fusion oncoprotein in NUT midline carcinoma: implications for a novel oncogenic mechanism. Cancer Discov 4 (8): 928-41, 2014. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. French CA: NUT midline carcinoma. Cancer Genet Cytogenet 203 (1): 16-20, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]

Clinical Presentation and Outcome

Childhood midline tract carcinomas (NUT midline carcinomas) arise in midline epithelial structures, typically the mediastinum and upper aerodigestive tract, and present as very aggressive, undifferentiated carcinomas, with or without squamous differentiation.[1,2] Although the original description of this neoplasm was made in children and young adults, individuals of all ages can be affected.[3] A retrospective series with clinicopathological correlation found that the median age at diagnosis of 54 patients was 16 years (range, 0.1–78 years).[4]

The outcome of these patients is very poor, with a median survival of less than 1 year. Preliminary data suggest that NUT-variant tumors may have a more protracted course.[1,3]

References
  1. French CA, Kutok JL, Faquin WC, et al.: Midline carcinoma of children and young adults with NUT rearrangement. J Clin Oncol 22 (20): 4135-9, 2004. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Chau NG, Hurwitz S, Mitchell CM, et al.: Intensive treatment and survival outcomes in NUT midline carcinoma of the head and neck. Cancer 122 (23): 3632-3640, 2016. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. French CA: NUT midline carcinoma. Cancer Genet Cytogenet 203 (1): 16-20, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Bauer DE, Mitchell CM, Strait KM, et al.: Clinicopathologic features and long-term outcomes of NUT midline carcinoma. Clin Cancer Res 18 (20): 5773-9, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]

Special Considerations for the Treatment of Children With Cancer

Cancer in children and adolescents is rare, although the overall incidence has been slowly increasing since 1975.[1] Referral to medical centers with multidisciplinary teams of cancer specialists experienced in treating cancers that occur in childhood and adolescence should be considered. This multidisciplinary team approach incorporates the skills of the following health care professionals and others to ensure that children receive treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation that will achieve optimal survival and quality of life:

  • Primary care physicians.
  • Pediatric surgeons.
  • Radiation oncologists.
  • Pediatric medical oncologists/hematologists.
  • Rehabilitation specialists.
  • Pediatric nurse specialists.
  • Social workers.
  • Child-life professionals.
  • Psychologists.

(Refer to the PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care summaries for specific information about supportive care for children and adolescents with cancer.)

The American Academy of Pediatrics has outlined guidelines for pediatric cancer centers and their role in the treatment of pediatric patients with cancer.[2] At these pediatric cancer centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer that occur in children and adolescents, and the opportunity to participate is offered to most patients and their families. Clinical trials for children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with current standard therapy. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapy for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI website.

Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved for children and adolescents with cancer. Between 1975 and 2010, childhood cancer mortality decreased by more than 50%.[3] Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close monitoring because side effects of cancer therapy may persist or develop months or years after treatment. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for specific information about the incidence, type, and monitoring of late effects in childhood and adolescent cancer survivors.)

Childhood cancer is a rare disease, with about 15,000 cases diagnosed annually in the United States in individuals younger than 20 years.[4] The U.S. Rare Diseases Act of 2002 defines a rare disease as one that affects populations smaller than 200,000 people. Therefore, all pediatric cancers are considered rare.

The designation of a rare tumor is not uniform among pediatric and adult groups. In adults, rare cancers are defined as those with an annual incidence of fewer than six cases per 100,000 people. They account for up to 24% of all cancers diagnosed in the European Union and about 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States.[5,6] Also, the designation of a pediatric rare tumor is not uniform among international groups, as follows:

  • A consensus effort between the European Union Joint Action on Rare Cancers and the European Cooperative Study Group for Rare Pediatric Cancers estimated that 11% of all cancers in patients younger than 20 years could be categorized as very rare. This consensus group defined very rare cancers as those with annual incidences of fewer than 2 cases per 1 million people. However, three additional histologies (thyroid carcinoma, melanoma, and testicular cancer) with incidences of more than 2 cases per 1 million people were also included in the very rare group because there is a lack of knowledge and expertise in the management of these tumors.[7]
  • The Children's Oncology Group defines rare pediatric cancers as those listed in the International Classification of Childhood Cancer subgroup XI, which includes thyroid cancer, melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers, and multiple types of carcinomas (e.g., adrenocortical carcinoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and most adult-type carcinomas such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer, etc.).[8] These diagnoses account for about 4% of cancers diagnosed in children aged 0 to 14 years, compared with about 20% of cancers diagnosed in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.[9]

    Most cancers in subgroup XI are either melanomas or thyroid cancer, with other types accounting for only 1.3% of cancers in children aged 0 to 14 years and 5.3% of cancers in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.

These rare cancers are extremely challenging to study because of the low number of patients with any individual diagnosis, the predominance of rare cancers in the adolescent population, and the lack of clinical trials for adolescents with rare cancers.

Information about these tumors may also be found in sources relevant to adults with cancer.

References
  1. Smith MA, Seibel NL, Altekruse SF, et al.: Outcomes for children and adolescents with cancer: challenges for the twenty-first century. J Clin Oncol 28 (15): 2625-34, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics: Standards for pediatric cancer centers. Pediatrics 134 (2): 410-4, 2014. Also available online. Last accessed June 7, 2022.
  3. Smith MA, Altekruse SF, Adamson PC, et al.: Declining childhood and adolescent cancer mortality. Cancer 120 (16): 2497-506, 2014. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Ward E, DeSantis C, Robbins A, et al.: Childhood and adolescent cancer statistics, 2014. CA Cancer J Clin 64 (2): 83-103, 2014 Mar-Apr. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Gatta G, Capocaccia R, Botta L, et al.: Burden and centralised treatment in Europe of rare tumours: results of RARECAREnet-a population-based study. Lancet Oncol 18 (8): 1022-1039, 2017. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. DeSantis CE, Kramer JL, Jemal A: The burden of rare cancers in the United States. CA Cancer J Clin 67 (4): 261-272, 2017. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Ferrari A, Brecht IB, Gatta G, et al.: Defining and listing very rare cancers of paediatric age: consensus of the Joint Action on Rare Cancers in cooperation with the European Cooperative Study Group for Pediatric Rare Tumors. Eur J Cancer 110: 120-126, 2019. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Pappo AS, Krailo M, Chen Z, et al.: Infrequent tumor initiative of the Children's Oncology Group: initial lessons learned and their impact on future plans. J Clin Oncol 28 (33): 5011-6, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al., eds.: SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2012. National Cancer Institute, 2015. Also available online. Last accessed May 25, 2022.

Treatment of Childhood Midline Tract Carcinoma

Treatment options for childhood midline tract carcinoma include the following:

  1. Chemotherapy.
  2. Surgery.
  3. Radiation therapy.

Treatment of childhood midline tract carcinoma involving the NUT gene (NUT midline carcinoma) has included a multimodal approach with systemic chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Cisplatin, taxanes, and alkylating agents have been used with some success; while early response is common, tumor progression occurs early in the course of the disease.[1]; [2][Level of evidence C1] In a report from the NUT Midline Carcinoma Registry, 40 patients with primary tumors in the head and neck were evaluable. The 2-year overall survival rate was 30%. The three long-term survivors (35, 72, and 78 months) underwent primary gross-total resection and received adjuvant therapy.[3]; [4][Level of evidence C1]

Because of the presence of the NUT-BRD4 gene fusion in NUT midline carcinomas, there has been great interest in evaluating BET bromodomain inhibitors for adults and children with this malignancy.[5] Unfortunately, activity for this class of agents has been limited in reported clinical trials:

  • In a phase I study of the BET inhibitor molibresib, confirmed objective responses were observed in 2 of the 19 patients who were treated with a daily dose of 60 mg or higher.[6]
  • A subsequent phase II study of molibresib used a daily dose of 75 mg in patients with NUT midline carcinomas. Only 1 of the 12 patients achieved an objective response, which did not meet the prespecified bar for activity.[7]
  • In a phase I study of the BET inhibitor birabresib, three of the nine patients achieved responses, but only one response lasted longer than 2 months.[8]
References
  1. Lemelle L, Pierron G, Fréneaux P, et al.: NUT carcinoma in children and adults: A multicenter retrospective study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 64 (12): , 2017. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Bauer DE, Mitchell CM, Strait KM, et al.: Clinicopathologic features and long-term outcomes of NUT midline carcinoma. Clin Cancer Res 18 (20): 5773-9, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Sopfe J, Greffe B, Treece AL: Metastatic NUT Midline Carcinoma Treated With Aggressive Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy, Radiation, and Resection: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 43 (1): e73-e75, 2021. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Chau NG, Hurwitz S, Mitchell CM, et al.: Intensive treatment and survival outcomes in NUT midline carcinoma of the head and neck. Cancer 122 (23): 3632-3640, 2016. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Pearson AD, DuBois SG, Buenger V, et al.: Bromodomain and extra-terminal inhibitors-A consensus prioritisation after the Paediatric Strategy Forum for medicinal product development of epigenetic modifiers in children-ACCELERATE. Eur J Cancer 146: 115-124, 2021. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Piha-Paul SA, Hann CL, French CA, et al.: Phase 1 Study of Molibresib (GSK525762), a Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal Domain Protein Inhibitor, in NUT Carcinoma and Other Solid Tumors. JNCI Cancer Spectr 4 (2): pkz093, 2020. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Cousin S, Blay JY, Garcia IB, et al.: Safety, pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and clinical activity of molibresib for the treatment of nuclear protein in testis carcinoma and other cancers: Results of a Phase I/II open-label, dose escalation study. Int J Cancer 150 (6): 993-1006, 2022. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Lewin J, Soria JC, Stathis A, et al.: Phase Ib Trial With Birabresib, a Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Bromodomain and Extraterminal Proteins, in Patients With Selected Advanced Solid Tumors. J Clin Oncol 36 (30): 3007-3014, 2018. [PUBMED Abstract]

Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation for Childhood Midline Tract Carcinoma

Information about National Cancer Institute (NCI)–supported clinical trials can be found on the NCI website. For information about clinical trials sponsored by other organizations, refer to the ClinicalTrials.gov website.

The following are examples of national and/or institutional clinical trials that are currently being conducted:

  • APEC1621 (NCT03155620) (Pediatric MATCH: Targeted Therapy Directed by Genetic Testing in Treating Pediatric Patients with Relapsed or Refractory Advanced Solid Tumors, Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas, or Histiocytic Disorders): NCI-COG Pediatric Molecular Analysis for Therapeutic Choice (MATCH), referred to as Pediatric MATCH, will match targeted agents with specific molecular changes identified in a patient's tumor (refractory or recurrent). Children and adolescents aged 1 to 21 years are eligible for the trial.

    Patients with tumors that have molecular variants addressed by treatment arms included in the trial will be offered treatment on Pediatric MATCH. Additional information can be obtained on the NCI website and ClinicalTrials.gov website.

  • NCT03936465 (BMS-986158 for the Treatment of Recurrent or Refractory Solid Tumors, Central Nervous System Tumors, or Lymphoma): This study has a phase I component to determine the appropriate dose of BMS-986158 to use in pediatric patients. Expansion cohorts are planned for patients whose tumors have the following characteristics: (1) MYCN amplification or high copy number gain; (2) MYC amplification or high copy number gain; (3) translocation involving MYC or MYCN; or (4) translocation involving BRD4 or BRD3.

Changes to This Summary (02/25/2022)

The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

Editorial changes were made to this summary.

This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ® - NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.

About This PDQ Summary

Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of childhood midline tract carcinoma involving the NUT gene (NUT midline carcinoma). It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians in the care of their patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.

Reviewers and Updates

This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Board members review recently published articles each month to determine whether an article should:

  • be discussed at a meeting,
  • be cited with text, or
  • replace or update an existing article that is already cited.

Changes to the summaries are made through a consensus process in which Board members evaluate the strength of the evidence in the published articles and determine how the article should be included in the summary.

The lead reviewers for Childhood Midline Tract Carcinoma Involving the NUT Gene (NUT Midline Carcinoma) Treatment are:

  • Denise Adams, MD (Children's Hospital Boston)
  • Karen J. Marcus, MD, FACR (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children's Hospital)
  • Paul A. Meyers, MD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center)
  • Thomas A. Olson, MD (Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta - Egleston Campus)
  • Alberto S. Pappo, MD (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)
  • Arthur Kim Ritchey, MD (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC)
  • Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, MD (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)
  • Stephen J. Shochat, MD (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)

Any comments or questions about the summary content should be submitted to Cancer.gov through the NCI website's Email Us. Do not contact the individual Board Members with questions or comments about the summaries. Board members will not respond to individual inquiries.

Levels of Evidence

Some of the reference citations in this summary are accompanied by a level-of-evidence designation. These designations are intended to help readers assess the strength of the evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. The PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board uses a formal evidence ranking system in developing its level-of-evidence designations.

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The preferred citation for this PDQ summary is:

PDQ® Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Childhood Midline Tract Carcinoma Involving the NUT Gene (NUT Midline Carcinoma) Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/midline/hp-child-midline-tract-carcinoma-treatment-pdq. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.

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