Impact of induction chemotherapy, hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy and high-dose thiotepa on brain volume loss and functional status of children with primitive neuroectodermal tumour

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The introduction of aggressive chemo-radiotherapy regimens has improved overall survival in children with primitive neuroectodermal tumours (PNET). However, these combinations may result in neurotoxicity. Previously reported magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities in children receiving intensive sequential chemotherapy, hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy (HART) and high-dose thiotepa prompted us to investigate the degree of brain volume loss and patients’ functional status after therapy.


We retrospectively reviewed clinico-radiological data of children with PNET treated in this way at our centre.


We studied 14 children treated between December 2009 and April 2013. Data were not complete for one child. Performance status was severely restricted in four children, and mildly to moderately impaired in 7 of the 13 children. Eleven of 13 children showed mild-to-severe generalised neuroparenchymal atrophy, in 7 of whom neuroparenchymal volume loss was moderate to severe. Of these seven, six had received high-dose thiotepa. There was no correlation between brain volume loss and Lansky performance status. However, unexpected neurotoxicities, such as symptoms of transverse myelitis, were observed.


Measurement of brain volume loss in patients treated with HART and high-dose thiotepa may not be sufficient to predict function. However, correlation of brain volume loss due to late neurotoxicity with performance decline may be more obvious over longer period of follow-up. The combination of HART and myeloablative courses of thiotepa is associated with severe neurotoxicity and subsequent decline in performance status in a significant proportion of patients.

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