Brainstem Low-Grade Gliomas in Children—Excellent Outcomes With Multimodality Therapy

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Safe maximal surgical resection is the initial treatment of choice for pediatric brainstem low-grade gliomas. Optimal therapy for incompletely resected tumors or that progress after surgery is uncertain. We reviewed the clinical characteristics, therapy, and outcomes of all children with nontectal brainstem low-grade gliomas treated at the University of Michigan between 1993 and 2013. Median age at diagnosis was 6 years; histology was confirmed in 23 of 25 tumors, 64% were pilocytic astrocytoma. Nineteen patients underwent initial tumor resection; 14/19 received no upfront adjuvant therapy. Eight patients in the study had progressive disease; 5 initially resected tumors received chemotherapy at tumor relapse, all with partial or complete radiographic responses. Ten-year progression-free survival is 71% and overall survival, 100%. This single-institution retrospective study demonstrates excellent survival rates for children with brainstem low-grade gliomas. The efficacy of the well-tolerated chemotherapy in this series supports its role in the treatment of unresectable or progressive brainstem low-grade gliomas.

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