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Patricia L. Robertson, Karin M. Muraszko, Emiko J. Holmes, Richard Sposto, Roger J. Packer, Amar Gajjar, Mark S. Dias, and Jeffrey C. Allen

Object

Cerebellar mutism syndrome (CMS) is a unique postoperative syndrome typically arising 1 to 2 days after resection of a midline posterior fossa tumor; it consists of diminished speech progressing to mutism, emotional lability, hypotonia, and ataxia. Most descriptions have been limited to small institutional series using a retrospective chart review methodology.

Methods

The authors incorporated a CMS questionnaire in two large clinical trials (Children’s Cancer Group [CCG] 9931, treatment for high-risk medulloblastoma/primitive neuroectodermal tumor; and CCG/Pediatric Oncology Group [POG] A9961, treatment for average-risk medulloblastoma) to prospectively survey for incidence, severity, and possible causes of CMS in children with newly diagnosed medulloblastoma. Information pertaining to 450 of the 463 patients enrolled in the studies was available for review (82 patients in CCG 9931, and 368 patients in CCG/POG A9961).

Cerebellar mutism syndrome occurred in 107 (24%) of 450 children. Symptom intensity was judged to have been severe in 43%, moderate in 49%, and mild in 8% of these 107 patients. Mutism and ataxia were the features most frequently judged as severe. In both cohorts, preoperative brainstem invasion was the only feature that correlated with risk of CMS. One year after diagnosis, nonmotor speech/language deficits, neurocognitive deficits, and/or ataxia persisted in a significant fraction of patients.

Conclusions

Nearly one quarter of patients who underwent resection of a medulloblastoma developed symptoms of CMS, of which 92% were judged to be of moderate or severe intensity. Brainstem invasion by tumor was the only risk factor that correlated positively with CMS occurrence; there was a negative correlation with cerebellar hemisphere tumor location. As more radical resections are attempted for medulloblastoma, the potential for increased morbidity must be carefully weighed against prognostic factors, especially in patients with brainstem invasion.

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Ian F. Pollack, Ronald L. Hamilton, C. David James, Sydney D. Finkelstein, Judith Burnham, Allan J. Yates, Emiko J. Holmes, Tianni Zhou, Jonathan L. Finlay, and Group for the Children’s Oncology

Object

In reporting on molecular studies involving malignant gliomas in adults, authors have noted that deletions of PTEN and amplification of EGFR are common and may contribute to tumor development, providing a rationale for a number of therapies aimed at these molecular targets. The frequency of comparable abnormalities has not been defined in a sizable pediatric cohort. To address this issue, we examined tumor samples from the Children’s Cancer Group 945 study, a large randomized trial of treatment for childhood malignant gliomas.

Methods

Tissue sections in 62 evaluable cases were examined, and the tumors were isolated by microdissection. Polymerase chain reaction amplification was used to detect PTEN mutations. Deletions of PTEN were also assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) in 27 cases and loss of heterozygosity analysis in 54; EGFR was assessed using immunohistochemistry to identify areas with maximal EGFR expression, followed by FISH to determine EGFR amplification.

Alteration of the PTEN sequence was detected in just one of 62 tumors, in conjunction with loss of chromosome 10; PTEN deletions without mutation were evident in seven additional tumors. The PTEN alterations were more common in glioblastoma multiforme (seven of 25 tumors) than other tumor subgroups (one of 37 tumors) (p = 0.0056). Although 14 of 38 evaluable tumors had increased EGFR expression compared to normal tissue, only one tumor exhibited amplification of EGFR.

Conclusions

Alterations in PTEN and amplification of EGFR are uncommon in pediatric malignant gliomas, in contrast to adult malignant gliomas. From this one can infer that the pediatric and adult tumors involve distinct molecular causes. The results of this study have important implications for the adaptation of glioma therapies aimed at molecular targets in adults to the treatment of childhood gliomas, and highlight the need for investigations of therapies specifically directed toward childhood tumors.