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S. Taylor Jarrell, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, W. Marston Linehan, Edward H. Oldfield, and Russell R. Lonser


Patients with hereditary cancer syndromes may be at increased risk for the development of tumor-to-tumor metastases. To gain insight into the biological nature of these lesions in the central nervous system (CNS), to determine their prevalence in a familial neoplasia syndrome, and to better define their management, the authors retrospectively examined a series of cases in which metastatic lesions developed within hemangioblastomas in patients with von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) disease.


The study included all cases of VHL disease in which patients underwent resection of a CNS hemangioblastoma that contained a metastasis or were found at autopsy to have a metastasis to a hemangioblastoma between January 2002 and December 2005 at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Clinical, histopathological, imaging, and surgical and/or autopsy findings were analyzed.

Metastasis to a CNS hemangioblastoma was found in six resected tumors (8% of all hemangioblastomas resected from patients with VHL disease at the NINDS during the study period) from six patients (five women, one man; mean age at surgery 42.5 years). The primary site of metastatic disease was the kidney in five patients (renal cell carcinoma) and the pancreas in one (a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor). Only one patient had systemic metastases at the time of resection of the hemangioblastoma containing the metastasis. Neurologically, all patients had remained at baseline or were improved at last clinical follow-up examination (mean follow-up duration 16.5 months, range 3–40 months). In all cases, postoperative imaging revealed that the hemangioblastoma resection was complete, and there was no evidence of recurrence in any of the patients at the last follow up. Two patients (including one who was also in the surgical group) were found at autopsy to have CNS metastases exclusively to spinal hemangioblastomas.


Hemangioblastomas are an early and preferred site for metastasis in VHL disease. Emerging histopathological techniques may lead to recognition of an increasing number of cases of tumor-to-hemangioblastoma metastasis. Management of cases involving tumor-to-hemangioblastoma metastases in VHL disease should be based on the histological characteristics of the primary tumor, extent of the primary disease, and completeness of the resection.

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Russell R. Lonser, John A. Butman, Kristin Huntoon, Ashok R. Asthagiri, Tianxia Wu, Kamran D. Bakhtian, Emily Y. Chew, Zhengping Zhuang, W. Marston Linehan, and Edward H. Oldfield


The tumors most frequently associated with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease are hemangioblastomas. While they are associated with significant neurological impairment and mortality, their natural history and optimal management have not been fully defined.


Patients with VHL were enrolled in a prospective study designed to define the natural history of CNS hemangioblastomas. In the present analysis, serial imaging, laboratory, genetic, and clinical data were evaluated in those with at least 2 years of follow-up data.


At study entrance 225 patients (111 males, 114 females) harbored 1921 CNS hemangioblastomas in the supratentorial compartment (21 tumors [1%]), cerebellum (865 [45%]), brainstem (129 [7%]), spinal cord (689 [36%]), cauda equina (212 [11%]), and nerve roots (5 [0.3%]; follow-up 15,819 hemangioblastoma-years). Increased tumor burden was associated with partial deletions in the VHL gene (p = 0.005) and male sex (p = 0.002). Hemangioblastoma development (median 0.3 new tumors/year) was associated with younger age (p < 0.0001) and more tumors at study entrance (p < 0.0001). While 1278 hemangioblastomas (51%) did not grow, 1227 hemangioblastomas (49%) grew in a saltatory (886 [72%]), linear (76 [6%]), or exponential (264 [22%]) pattern. Faster tumor growth was associated with male sex (p = 0.001), symptomatic tumors (p < 0.0001), and tumors associated with cysts (p < 0.0001). Location-dependent tumor size was the primary predictor of eventual symptom formation (159 symptomatic tumors [6.3%]; area under the curve > 0.9).


Central nervous system hemangioblastoma burden in VHL is associated with partial germline deletions and male sex. Unpredictable growth of hemangioblastomas compromises assessment of nonsurgical therapies. The judicious treatment of symptom-producing hemangioblastomas, while avoiding unnecessary treatment of asymptomatic tumors that may not progress, can provide clinical stability. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT00005902 (

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Kristin Huntoon, Tianxia Wu, J. Bradley Elder, John A. Butman, Emily Y. Chew, W. Marston Linehan, Edward H. Oldfield, and Russell R. Lonser


Peritumoral cysts are frequently associated with CNS hemangioblastomas and often underlie neurological morbidity and mortality. To determine their natural history and clinical impact, the authors prospectively analyzed hemangioblastoma-associated peritumoral cysts in patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease.


Patients with VHL disease who had 2 or more years of follow-up and who were enrolled in a prospective study at the National Institutes of Health were included. Serial prospectively acquired laboratory, genetic, imaging, and clinical data were analyzed.


One hundred thirty-two patients (of 225 in the VHL study with at least 2 years of follow-up) had peritumoral cysts that were followed for more than 2 years (total of 292 CNS peritumoral cysts). The mean age at study entrance was 37.4 ± 13.1 years ([mean ± SD], median 37.9, range 12.3–65.1 years). The mean follow-up was 7.0 ± 1.7 years (median 7.3, range 2.1–9.0 years). Over the study period, 121 of the 292 peritumoral cysts (41.4%) became symptomatic. Development of new cysts was associated with a larger number cysts at study enrollment (p = 0.002) and younger age (p < 0.0001). Cyst growth rate was associated with anatomical location (cerebellum cysts grew faster than spine and brainstem cysts; p = 0.0002 and p = 0.0008), younger age (< 35 years of age; p = 0.0006), and development of new neurological symptoms (p < 0.0001). Cyst size at symptom production depended on anatomical location (p < 0.0001; largest to smallest were found, successively, in the cerebellum, spinal cord, and brainstem). The most common location for peritumoral cysts was the cerebellum (184 cysts [63%]; p < 0.0001).


Peritumoral cysts frequently underlie symptom formation that requires surgical intervention in patients with VHL disease. Development of new cysts was associated with a larger number of cysts at study enrollment and younger age. Total peritumoral cyst burden was associated with germline partial deletion of the VHL gene.