The incidence of primary spinal cord glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in the pediatric age group is very rare. Only a few case series and case reports have been published in the literature; therefore, overall survival (OS) outcome and the as-yet poorly defined management options are not discussed in detail. The authors performed a cumulative survival analysis of all reported cases of pediatric spinal cord GBM to identify the predictive factors related to final survival outcome.
A comprehensive search for relevant articles was performed on PubMed's electronic database MEDLINE for the period from 1950 to 2015 using the search words “malignant spinal cord tumor” and “spinal glioblastoma multiforme.” This study was limited to patients younger than 18 years of age. Survival rates for children with various tumor locations and treatments were collected from the published articles and analyzed.
After an extensive literature search, 29 articles met the study inclusion criteria. From the detailed information in these articles, the authors found 53 children eligible for the survival analysis. The majority (45%) of the children were more than 12 years old. Thirty-four percent of the cases were between 7 and 12 years of age, and 21% were younger than 7 years. In the Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, children younger than 7 years of age had better survival (13 months) than the children older than 7 years (7–12 years: 10 months, > 12 years: 9 months; p = 0.01, log-rank test). Fifty-five percent of the children were female and 45% were male. A cervical tumor location (32%) was the most common, followed by thoracic (28.3%). Cervicothoracic (18.9%) and conus (18.8%) tumor locations shared the same percentage of cases. Cervical tumors had a worse outcome than tumors in other locations (p = 0.003, log-rank test). The most common presenting symptom was limb weakness (53%), followed by sensory disturbances (25%). Median OS was 10 months. The addition of adjuvant therapy (radiotherapy [RT] and/or chemotherapy [CT]) after surgery significantly improved OS (p = 0.01, log-rank test). Children who underwent gross-total resection and RT had better outcomes than those who underwent subtotal resection and RT (p = 0.04, log-rank test). Cerebrospinal fluid spread, hydrocephalus, brain metastasis, and spinal metastasis were not correlated with OS in primary spinal GBM.
Adjuvant therapy after surgery had a beneficial effect on overall outcome of spinal GBM in the pediatric age group. Gross-total resection followed by RT produced a better outcome than subtotal resection with RT. Further large-scale prospective study is required to establish the genetic and molecular factors related to OS in primary GBM of the spinal cord in pediatric patients.