BOSTON (Feb. 3, 2014) The first comprehensive, large-scale cohort study of the long-term survival of children treated for low-grade gliomas, the most common pediatric brain tumor, finds that almost 90 percent are alive 20 years later and that few die from the tumor as adults. However, children who received radiation as part of their treatment had significantly lower long-term survival rates than children who were not radiated, researchers from Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center report. These findings stand regardless of whether surgeons could successfully remove a child's entire tumor or only part of it, suggesting that the radiation itself may explain the difference.
The findings were published online by the journal Pediatric Blood and Cancer.
Delivery of radiation to children's developing brains has been linked to a number of adverse long-term effects, including cognitive development and endocrine function. While a number of major hospitals, including Dana-Farber/Boston Children's, have almost eliminated radiation in treating low-grade gliomas, the extent to which other institutions employ radiation varies, according to the study's senior author, Peter Manley, MD, of the Brain Tumor Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's.
"We found for the first time that once you survive your childhood with a low-grade glioma, you are not likely to die of that tumor as an adult," Manley said. "This is incredibly encouraging for patients and families. However, we also found some things that we are currently doing to treat low-grade gliomas, such as radiation, are increasing the rate of death later, so that as an adult you won't die of the tumor, but you may die from the treatment."
The data did not allow researchers to determine the precise mechanism driving the association between radiation treatment and reduced long-term survival (e.g., second cancers, other radiation-induced toxicities). However, g
|Contact: Irene Sege|
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute