Radiation monotherapy—prophylactic craniospinal or whole-brain irradiation paired with a radiation boost to the primary tumor—is the standard treatment for intracranial germinomas at the authors' institution. The authors assessed long-term outcomes of patients with germinoma who underwent therapy and identified factors affecting them.
The authors retrospectively analyzed data obtained in 46 patients (35 males and 11 females, age 5–43 years at diagnosis) who had been treated for intracranial germinomas between 1990 and 2009 at the authors' institution. Thirty patients had germinomas in localized regions and 16 in multiple regions. Thirty-eight patients (83%) underwent radiotherapy alone (craniospinal irradiation in 32 and whole-brain irradiation in 6). Seven patients underwent radiochemotherapy and 1 underwent chemotherapy alone. The mean radiation doses for the whole brain, spine, and primary tumor site were 26.9, 26.6, and 49.8 Gy, respectively. The median follow-up period was 125 months.
The 10-year overall and recurrence-free survival rates were 93.3% and 89.3%, respectively. None of the 38 patients who received radiation monotherapy developed a recurrent lesion, whereas 1 of 7 who underwent radiochemotherapy and the 1 patient who underwent chemotherapy had a recurrent lesion. Of the entire population, 26 patients required hormone replacement therapy, 2 had short stature, and 1 developed a radiation-induced meningioma. Seventeen of the 25 childhood- or adolescent-onset patients were 19 years or older at the latest follow-up visit, 15 of whom graduated from senior high school, and only 2 of whom graduated from college. Of 34 patients who were 19 years or older at the latest visit, 4 were students, 18 worked independently, 4 worked in sheltered workplaces, and 8 were unemployed. Of the 34 patients, 4 got married after the initial treatment, 3 of whom had children. There were 8 patients (17%) with low postoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores that were significantly associated with impaired neurocognitive functions, severe surgical complications, and neurological impairments. In 10 of the 46 patients, KPS scores at the latest visit were lower than their postoperative KPS scores. These decreases in KPS scores were significantly correlated with a delayed decline in neurocognitive functions in childhood-onset patients and a postoperative impairment of neurocognitive functions in patients with adolescent- or adult-onset germinoma.
No tumor recurrence occurred in germinoma patients treated with the authors' radiation monotherapy, which appears to be effective enough to cure the tumor. Brain damage caused by tumors themselves and surgical complications were found to adversely affect functional outcomes in patients regardless of their age. Although radiotherapy rarely caused late adverse effects in patients with adolescent- or adult-onset, in some childhood-onset lesions, the radiation seems to carry the risk of neurocognitive dysfunctions, which are attributable to late adverse effects. Accordingly, treatments for germinoma patients should be selected according to a patient's age and the extent of the tumor and with particular care to avoid surgical complications.