Background: Gastrointestinal tumors are relatively uncommon in infants and children, and the histologic diagnoses differ from those seen in an adult practice. Furthermore, the clinical presentation of such tumors is quite variable.
Methods: We reviewed the records of 39 pediatric patients who had been treated for tumors of the alimentary tract at our hospital over the past 20 years. The symptoms, physical findings, treatments, and outcomes are tabulated and discussed.
Results: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was the predominant diagnosis. It was found in 22 children, and the survival rate was 60%. Other malignant tumors found in this pediatric series included colorectal carcinoma in four patients and gastric leiomyosarcoma in one. The outcomes of these patients were poor; four of the children have died, and one girl remains alive with extensive disease. Benign lesions included neurogenic tumors (n=5), inflammatory pseudotumors (n=3), hemangiomas (n=2), teratoma and carcinoid (n=1 each). These tumors were ultimately cured, with one exception, after surgical resection.
Conclusions: Gastrointestinal tumors in children cover a broad spectrum of benign and malignant varieties and stem from conditions that differ significantly from those observed in adults. While treatment varies according to diagnosis, most patients respond best to complete resection of the primary tumor.
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