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Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan, Andrew E. Sloan and Ann G. Schwartz

Object. The purpose of this study was to examine patterns of diagnosis and relative survival rates in individuals in whom a primary malignant brain tumor was diagnosed between 1973 and 1997; follow-up review of these patients continued through the end of 1999.

Methods. The study population was composed of 21,493 patients with primary malignant brain tumors that were diagnosed between 1973 and 1997. Data on these patients were obtained from the population-based Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. The study population was divided into three cohorts based on the year of diagnosis, and these groups were compared with respect to variables of interest by performing chi-square tests and relative survival analysis with the life table method.

Over time, there were consistently more men, more Caucasians, more patients undergoing surgery, and more individuals 70 years and older who received the diagnosis of primary malignant brain tumor. An examination of proportions of individuals with astrocytoma, other; oligodendroglioma, other; and oligodendroglioma Grade III showed significant temporal changes with frontal and temporal lobe tumors occurring most often. The diagnosis was obtained at an earlier age in African-American than in Caucasian patients. Caucasians had higher proportions of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which was associated with decreased survival times, and of oligodendroglioma, other, whereas African Americans had higher proportions of astrocytoma, other; ependymoma Grade II or III; and medulloblastoma, all of which were associated with increased survival times. The relative survival case demonstrated a continuous improvement over time, although older patients, those who underwent biopsy only, and those with GBMs continue to have the poorest survival times. The relative survival rates of African Americans consistently were similar or worse than those of Caucasians when the groups were stratified by prognostic factors.

Conclusions. Over time, the relative survival rate of individuals with primary malignant brain tumor has improved and differences in survival are seen by examining the race of the patients.

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Andrew E. Sloan

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Steven Hsu, Marisa Quattrone, Quinn Ostrom, Timothy C. Ryken, Andrew E. Sloan and Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan

Object

Primary malignant spinal glioma represents a significant clinical challenge due to the devastating effect on clinical outcomes in the majority of cases. As they are infrequently encountered in any one center, there has been limited population-based data analysis on the incidence patterns of these aggressive tumors. The objective of this study was to use publically available Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program data to examine the overall incidence and incidence patterns over time with regard to age at diagnosis, sex, race, primary site of tumor, and histological subtype in patients in whom primary malignant spinal cord gliomas were diagnosed between 1973 and 2006.

Methods

The study population of interest was limited to primary, malignant, pathologically confirmed spinal cord gliomas based on data drawn from the SEER 9 standard registries for patients diagnosed between 1973 and 2006. Variables of interest included age at diagnosis, sex, race, primary site of tumor, and histological subtype of tumor. The SEER*Stat 6.5.2 program was used to calculate frequencies, age-adjusted incidence rates with 95% CIs, and annual percentage change (APC) statistics with a 2-sided p value. In addition, linear correlation coefficients (R2) were calculated for the time association stratified by variables of interest.

Results

The overall age-adjusted incidence rate for primary malignant spinal gliomas was 0.12 per 100,000, which increased significantly over the study period (APC = 1.74; p = 0.0004; R2 = 0.36). The incidence was highest in patients diagnosed at ages 35–49 (0.17 per 100,000), males (0.14 per 100,000), whites (0.13 per 100,000), and those with ependymomas (0.07 per 100,000). Over the study period, the incidence of ependymomas increased significantly (APC = 3.17; p < 0.0001; R2 = 0.58) as did the incidence of these tumors in whites (APC = 2.13; p = 0.0001) and for both males (APC = 1.90, p value < 0.0001) and females (APC = 1.60, p < 0.0001). The authors found no significant changes in the incidence over time by age of diagnosis.

Conclusions

This study demonstrates an increasing overall incidence of primary, malignant spinal cord glioma over the past 3 decades. Notably, for ependymoma the incidence has increased, whereas the incidence of most other glioma subtypes remained stable. This may be due to improved diagnostic and surgical techniques, changes in histological classification criteria, and changes in neuropathology diagnostic criteria. Although primary, malignant spinal cord gliomas are rare, an improved understanding of the incidence will assist investigators and clinicians in planning potential studies and preparing for allocation of resources to care for these challenging patients.

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Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan, Vonetta L. Williams, John L. Maldonado, Dilip Shahani, Heather G. Stockwell, Marc Chamberlain and Andrew E. Sloan

Object

This study was undertaken to evaluate the association between age at diagnosis, patterns of care, and outcome among elderly individuals with anaplastic astrocytoma (AA) and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

Methods

Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database, the authors identified 1753 individuals with primary GBM and 205 individuals with primary AA (diagnosed between June 1991 and December 1999) who were 66 years and older and whose records were linked to Medicare information. To facilitate gathering of prediagnosis comorbidity and postdiagnosis treatment information, only those individuals were included who had the same Medicare coverage for 6 months before and 12 months after diagnosis. The odds of undergoing various combinations of treatments and the associations with outcome were calculated by tumor type and age and adjusted by various predictors.

Results

Age was not associated with treatment differences in individuals with AA. Very elderly individuals (≥ 75 years old) with GBM were more likely to have biopsy only (odds ratio [OR] 2.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.78–3.59), surgery only (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.15–1.87), or biopsy and radiation (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.07–1.82) and were less likely to receive multimodal therapy. Regardless of patient age or lesion histological characteristics, survival was decreased in patients treated with biopsy only. Individuals with GBM who had surgery only or biopsy and radiation had worse outcomes than individuals treated with surgery and radiation. There were no differences in survival by lesion histological characteristics. Very elderly individuals with malignant astrocytomas were more likely to receive limited treatment (most pronounced in individuals with GBM). Survival variation correlated with treatment combinations.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that in clinical neurooncology patient age is associated with not receiving effective therapies and hence worse prognosis.

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James Wright, Jessey Chugh, Christina Huang Wright, Fernando Alonso, Alia Hdeib, Haley Gittleman, Jill Barnholtz-Sloan and Andrew E. Sloan

OBJECTIVE

Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT), sometimes referred to as “stereotactic laser ablation,” has demonstrated utility in a subset of high-risk surgical patients with difficult to access (DTA) intracranial neoplasms. However, the treatment of tumors larger than 10 cm3 is associated with suboptimal outcomes and morbidity. This may limit the utility of LITT in dealing with precisely those large or deep tumors that are most difficult to treat with conventional approaches. Recently, several groups have reported on minimally invasive transsulcal approaches utilizing tubular retracting systems. However, these approaches have been primarily used for intraventricular or paraventricular lesions, and subtotal resections have been reported for intraparenchymal lesions. Here, the authors describe a combined approach of LITT followed by minimally invasive transsulcal resection for large and DTA tumors.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the results of LITT immediately followed by minimally invasive, transsulcal, transportal resection in 10 consecutive patients with unilateral, DTA malignant tumors > 10 cm3. The patients, 5 males and 5 females, had a median age of 65 years. Eight patients had glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), 1 had a previously treated GBM with radiation necrosis, and 1 had a melanoma brain metastasis. The median tumor volume treated was 38.0 cm3.

RESULTS

The median tumor volume treated to the yellow thermal dose threshold (TDT) line was 83% (range 76%–92%), the median tumor volume treated to the blue TDT line was 73% (range 60%–87%), and the median extent of resection was 93% (range 84%–100%). Two patients suffered mild postoperative neurological deficits, one transiently. Four patients have died since this analysis and 6 remain alive. Median progression-free survival was 280 days, and median overall survival was 482 days.

CONCLUSIONS

Laser interstitial thermal therapy followed by minimally invasive transsulcal resection, reported here for the first time, is a novel option for patients with large, DTA, malignant brain neoplasms. There were no unexpected neurological complications in this series, and operative characteristics improved as surgeon experience increased. Further studies are needed to elucidate any differences in survival or quality of life metrics.

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Gene H. Barnett, Andrew E. Sloan and Claudio E. Tatsui

Laser ablation (also known as laser interstitial thermal therapy [LITT]) has emerged as an important new technology for treating various disorders of the brain and spine. As with any new or emerging technology, there is a learning curve for its optimal use, and video tutorials can be important learning tools to help bridge gaps in knowledge for those who wish to become more familiar with laser ablation. In this special supplement to Neurosurgical Focus, videos illustrate laser ablation’s use in the treatment of epilepsy and failed radiosurgery, as well as technical aspects of performing these procedures in eloquent brain and in the spine. We hope that these videos will enable you to enhance your understanding of the evolving use of laser ablation for disorders of the brain or spine. It is the editors’ sincere hope that this will be helpful either in your own practice or in determining whether to refer to a neurosurgical colleague experienced in this field.

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Gene H. Barnett, Clark C. Chen, Robert E. Gross and Andrew E. Sloan

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James M. Wright, Michael D. Staudt, Andrea Alonso, Jonathan P. Miller and Andrew E. Sloan

The authors describe the case of a 22-month-old boy who presented with gelastic seizures and developmental delay. Magnetic resonance imaging and video-electroencephalography monitoring revealed a primarily intraventricular hypothalamic hamartoma and gelastic seizures occurring 20–30 times daily. The patient was treated with various regimens of antiepileptic medications for 16 months, but the seizures remained medically intractable. At 3 years of age, he underwent stereotactic laser ablation with an aim of disconnection of the lesion. The procedure was performed with the NeuroBlate SideFire probe. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first reported use of this technology for this procedure and serves as proof of concept. There were no perioperative complications, and 2 years postprocedure, the patient remains seizure free with marked behavioral and cognitive improvements.

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Kaveh Barami, Allison Grow, Steven Brem, Elias Dagnew and Andrew E. Sloan

✓During the past 25 years, radiosurgery has evolved as a primary treatment modality for certain meningiomas when resection would be associated with high patient morbidity. In addition, radiosurgery is now routinely used as an adjunctive therapy for residual or recurrent meningiomas after surgical removal. In this review the authors summarize the vascular complications that occur after radiosurgery for meningiomas as well as experimental study data that give insight into the pathogenesis of this complication. These data may be useful when discussing with patients the risk/benefit ratio of choosing among conservative management, radiosurgery, and surgery.