The Limited Value of Cytoreductive Surgery in Elderly Patients with Malignant Gliomas

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IN THIS RETROSPECTIVE, consecutive series of 128 elderly patients (over 65 years of age) with histologically proven Grade 4 astrocytomas, 88 patients underwent stereotactic biopsy and 40 patients underwent stereotactic volumetric resection of the mass lesion defined by contrast enhancement on computed tomography. There were no significant differences in age (average age in the biopsy group, 71.6 yr; resection group, 70.15 yr) or Karnofsky Performance Scores (biopsy group, 84.33; resection group, 83.88) between the two groups. Four of the biopsy patients and one of the resection patients died within 30 days of surgery. The overall mean survival was 126 days; 108 days (15.4 wk) in the patients who had biopsies and 189 days (27 wk) in the patients who had resections. Radiation therapy was completed in 62 of the patients who had biopsies (mean survival, 118 d or 16.9 wk) and 34 of the patients undergoing resection (mean survival, 210 d or 30 wk) (log rank P = 0.0215; Smirnov P = 0.006). Although some prolongation of survival is noted after resection (more than after a biopsy) in selected patients over 65 years of age, that benefit is modest.

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