Childhood Medulloblastoma Revisited

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Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant solid tumor in childhood and the most common embryonal neuroepithelial tumor of the central nervous system. Several morphological variants are recognized: classic medulloblastoma, large cell/anaplastic medulloblastoma, desmoplastic/nodular medulloblastoma, and medulloblastoma with extensive nodularity. Recent advances in transcriptome and methylome profiling of these tumors led to a molecular classification that includes 4 major genetically defined groups. Accordingly, the 2016 revision of the World Health Organization's Classification of Tumors of the Central Nervous System recognizes the following medulloblastoma entities: Wingless (WNT)-activated, Sonic hedgehog (SHH)-activated, Group 3, and Group 4. This transcriptionally driven classification constitutes the basis of new risk stratification schemes applied to current therapeutic clinical trials. Because additional layers of molecular tumor heterogeneities are being progressively unveiled, several clinically relevant subgroups within the 4 major groups have already been identified. The purpose of this article is to review the recent basic science and clinical advances in the understanding of “medulloblastomas,” and their diagnostic imaging correlates and the implications of those on current neuroimaging practice.

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