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Tenosynovial giant cell tumor: case report of a patient effectively treated with pexidartinib (PLX3397) and review of the literature



Tenosynovial giant cell tumors (TGCTs) or giant cell tumors of tendon sheath are neoplasms that arise in the synovium. They can be categorized as nodular (localized) or diffuse type (D-TGCT). Historically, surgery has been the mainstay of therapy, but diffuse type disease recurs at a high rate and treatment often requires increasingly morbid procedures. Elucidation of the importance of the colony-stimulating factor (CSF1)/CSF1 receptor (CSF1R) pathway in the pathogenesis of this disease has created significant interest in targeting this pathway as a novel TGCT treatment approach. Pexidartinib, a selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor against CSF1R, showed an 83% disease control rate (52% with partial response and 31% with stable disease) in a recent phase 1 study of patients with TGCT.

Case presentation

We present an illustrative example of a TGCT patient who would have required a morbid operation who derived considerable clinical benefit from pexidartinib treatment. Her tumor volume decreased by 48% after 4 months of treatment, and 55 months after starting treatment the patient exhibits continued disease stability with minimal clinical symptoms, and significant improvement in functional status.


This case illustrates the effectiveness of systemic therapy in controlling a disease associated with high surgical morbidity. This approach may be especially useful in the treatment of extra-articular disease which often invades neurovascular bundles; as the effectiveness in metastatic disease is still unknown. In the future, systemic treatment for TGCT may be appropriate for the neoadjuvant setting to decrease disease burden prior to surgery with the aim of decreasing recurrence rates. However, properly designed prospective studies will need to be carried out to answer these questions.

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