Malignant gliomas represent one of the most devastating human diseases. Primary treatment of these tumours involves surgery to achieve tumour debulking, followed by a multimodal regimen of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Survival time in patients with malignant glioma has modestly increased in recent years owing to advances in surgical and intraoperative imaging techniques, as well as the systematic implementation of randomized trial-based protocols and biomarker-based stratification of patients. The role and importance of several clinical and molecular factors—such as age, Karnofsky score, and genetic and epigenetic status—that have predictive value with regard to postsurgical outcome has also been identified. By contrast, the effect of the extent of glioma resection on patient outcome has received little attention, with an ‘all or nothing’ approach to tumour removal still taken in surgical practice. Recent studies, however, reveal that maximal possible cytoreduction without incurring neurological deficits has critical prognostic value for patient outcome and survival. Here, we evaluate state-of-the-art surgical procedures that are used in management of malignant glioma, with a focus on assessment criteria and value of tumour reduction. We highlight key surgical factors that enable optimization of adjuvant treatment to enhance patient quality of life and improve life expectancy.
Eyüpoglu, I. Y. et al. Nat. Rev. Neurol. 9, 141-151 (2013); published online 29 January 2013; doi:10.1038/nrneurol.2012.279