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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Janine Piscione, Iffat Shams and Eric Bouffet

Object

In the face of increasing survival, quality of life (QOL) has become an important indicator of treatment success in children with posterior fossa brain tumors (PFBTs). The authors' objective was to assess the long-term QOL in survivors of PFBT.

Methods

The authors conducted a cross-sectional study of children who, between birth and age 18 years at diagnosis, had previously been treated at their institution for a PFBT. At the time of assessment for this study, children were between 5 and 19 years old and had received standard treatment for PFBT ending at least 6 months before the assessment. The QOL was measured with the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) generic score scales and the Health Utilities Index Mark 3 (HUI3). Multivariate analyses were used to assess several variables (patient related, treatment related, and socioeconomic) for association with QOL.

Results

A total of 62 children participated in the study (median age at assessment 11.9 years, interquartile range [IQR] 7.8–14.8, and median age at tumor diagnosis of 4.9 years, IQR 2.5–6.9). Median time since active treatment for their PFBT was 5.2 years (IQR 2.4–10.1). Tumor types included cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma (45.2%), medulloblastoma (30.6%), ependymoma (11.3%), and brainstem astrocytoma (11.3%). Adjuvant therapy included chemotherapy (40.3%) or radiotherapy (14.5% focal and 21.0% craniospinal radiotherapy). Permanent treatment for hydrocephalus was required in 38.7% of the patients. Tumors recurred in 11.3%, requiring repeat treatment in these patients. The median HUI3 utility score was 0.91 (IQR 0.71–1.00) and the median PedsQL total score was 78.3 (IQR 64.1–92.4). Only the following variables were significantly associated with decreased QOL in multivariable model testing (all p < 0.05): need for permanent hydrocephalus treatment, large ventricle size, decreased family functioning, and lower family income.

Conclusions

As a group, long-term survivors of pediatric PFBT appear to have QOL indicators that are similar to those of the general population, although a reasonable minority of patients experience poor outcomes. Although several confounding variables likely remain in this retrospective study, important associations with QOL include the presence of hydrocephalus and socioeconomic factors. The study sample size, however, was limited and the presence of other important factors cannot be excluded.

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Machiel van den Akker, Paul Northcott, Michael D. Taylor, William Halliday, Ute Bartels and Eric Bouffet

A 9-year-old boy with known Duchenne type muscular dystrophy (DMD) presented with signs of increased intracranial pressure. Radiological investigations revealed a lesion in the midline of the posterior fossa. Subtotal resection was performed. Pathology findings were consistent with the diagnosis of anaplastic medulloblastoma. The postoperative lumbar CSF was positive for malignant cells. Postoperatively, the patient showed severe neurological deterioration and lost his capacity to walk. He was treated with craniospinal radiation followed by nonintensive chemotherapy. At 30 months postsurgery, he was still in complete remission but had not recovered his walking ability. This is the second report of a malignant brain tumor in a boy with DMD. The possible link between the 2 conditions is discussed, as are ethical considerations regarding the management of medulloblastoma in children with DMD.

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Mustafa Nadi, Navid Khezri, Tahani Ahmad, Michael Ellis, Eric Bouffet, James T. Rutka and Michael D. Taylor

Medulloblastoma is a highly malignant brain tumor of childhood. Although craniospinal dissemination within the subarachnoid space is common, invasion of the dural sinuses is rare. Here, the authors report on a 15-year-old girl who presented with a right cerebellar mass, obstructive hydrocephalus, and radiographic evidence of tumor invasion into the right transverse–sigmoid sinus junction. The patient underwent posterior fossa craniotomy, gross-total resection of the intraparenchymal component of the right cerebellar tumor, and coagulation of the tumor invading the transverse sinus. After pathological confirmation of anaplastic medulloblastoma, the patient underwent craniospinal radiation therapy and high-dose chemotherapy. At 2 years posttreatment, the child was neurologically intact with no radiographic evidence of residual disease or recurrence. The implications for disease prognosis and management are discussed.

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Demitre Serletis, Patricia Parkin, Eric Bouffet, Manohar Shroff, James M. Drake and James T. Rutka

Object

The authors review their experience with massive plexiform neurofibromas (PNs) in patients with pediatric neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) to better characterize the natural history and management of these complex lesions.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective review of data obtained in seven patients with NF1 in whom massive PNs were diagnosed at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. These patients attended routine follow-up examinations conducted by a number of specialists, and serial neuroimaging studies were obtained to monitor disease progression.

The most common presenting feature of PN was that of a painful, expanding lesion. Furthermore, two patients harbored multiple, distinct PNs affecting different body sites. With respect to management, two patients were simply observed, undergoing serial neuroimaging studies; two patients underwent biopsy sampling of their plexiform lesions; two patients underwent attempted medical treatment (farnesyl transferase inhibitor, R11577, and cyclophosphamide chemotherapy); and three patients required surgical debulking of their PNs because the massive growth of these tumors caused functional compromise. Ultimately, one patient died of respiratory complications due to progressive growth of the massive PN lesion.

Conclusions

In this review of their experience, the authors found certain features that underscore the presentation and natural history of PNs. The management of these complex lesions, however, remains unclear. Slow-growing PNs may be observed conservatively, but the authors' experience suggests that resection should be considered in selected cases involving significant deterioration or functional compromise. Nevertheless, patients with massive PNs will benefit from close surveillance by a team of specialists to monitor for ongoing disease progression.

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Mei Hua Li, Eric Bouffet, Cynthia E. Hawkins, Jeremy A. Squire and Annie Huang

The supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs) are a group of highly malignant lesions primarily affecting young children. Although these tumors are histologically indistinguishable from infratentorial medulloblastoma, they often respond poorly to medulloblastoma-specific therapy. Indeed, existing molecular genetic studies indicate that supratentorial PNETs have transcriptional and cytogenetic profiles that are different from those of medullo-blastomas, thus pointing to unique biological derivation for the supratentorial PNET. Due to the rarity of these tumors and disagreement about their histopathological diagnoses, very little is known about the molecular characteristics of the supratentorial PNET. Clearly, future concerted efforts to characterize the molecular features of these rare tumors will be necessary for development of more effective supratentorial PNET treatment protocols and appropriate disease models. In this article the authors review existing molecular genetic data derived from human and mouse studies, with the aim of providing some insight into the putative histogenesis of these rare tumors and the underlying transforming pathways that drive their development. Studies of the related but distinct pineoblastoma PNET are also reviewed.

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Ute Bartels, Cynthia Hawkins, Jing Ma, Michael Ho, Peter Dirks, James Rutka, Derek Stephens and Eric Bouffet

Object

The authors’ aim in conducting this study was to investigate retrospectively the prognostic significance of angiogenic features in optic pathway/hypothalamic gliomas (OPHGs) in children.

Methods

Patients were identified in whom a diagnosis of OPHG was made using pathological analysis at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children between 1985 and 2002. Tumor specimens were reviewed for diagnostic accuracy and adequacy of the specimen. Sections were immunostained with factor VIII to assess microvessel density (MVD). A ratio of α–smooth muscle actin to factor VIII immunostaining was calculated to arrive at a vascular maturity index (VMI). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and VEGF receptor (VEGFR) immunostaining were performed to evaluate angiogenic factors. In addition, the MIB-1 labeling index (LI) was used to assess proliferation. These factors were evaluated with respect to progression-free survival (PFS).

Forty-one of 60 patients originally identified had adequate samples and follow up for inclusion in the study. Of these, eight patients had coexisting neurofibromatosis Type 1. Twenty-eight patients experienced tumor progression after the initial treatment (surgery with or without adjuvant treatment). Thirty-eight patients are still alive. A high MVD (> 21 vessels/1.2 mm2) was associated with a significantly higher rate of progression compared with a low MVD (< 21 vessels/1.2 mm2; p = 0.017). Microvessel density was also predictive of reduced PFS on multivariate analysis stratified for extent of resection (p = 0.04), and VMI as well as intensity and distribution of VEGF and VEGFR staining and the MIB-1 LI were not significantly associated with PFS.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that MVD is the best current predictor of PFS in incompletely resected OPHGs. This information highlights the importance of angiogenesis in regard to low-grade gliomas.

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Lucie Lafay-Cousin, Ute Bartels, Charles Raybaud, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Sharon Guger, Annie Huang and Eric Bouffet

✓Intracystic bleomycin therapy has been proposed as a treatment for predominantly cystic craniopharyngioma. The risks of using this therapy, however, have not been clearly identified. The authors report on three children treated with intracystic bleomycin who developed initially mild symptoms during their course of therapy. They describe the neuroimaging findings from computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance (MR) images and the medical management of these three cases.

Two patients in whom craniopharyngioma was recently diagnosed and one patient with recurrent craniopharyngioma were treated with a course of 3 mg of intracystic bleomycin three times a week for 5 weeks, followed by once every week for 10 weeks. All patients had a negative reservoir permeability test prior to beginning intracystic bleomycin therapy. Patients were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms at the time of neuroimaging.

Magnetic resonance images revealed extensive vasogenic edema surrounding the cyst in all three patients, consistent with signs of bleomycin leakage. The edema occurred near the time of the 12th injection in two patients, and at the end of treatment in the remaining patient. Subsequently, two patients developed further symptoms suggestive of hypothalamic injury. These two patients received corticosteroids, leading to a rapid and sustained clinical improvement. Follow-up serial MR images showed a progressive regression of the surrounding edema.

Neuroimaging documentation of bleomycin toxicity has been described mainly in adults experiencing severe toxicity. There was no correlation between clinical symptoms and the extent of edema in these three patients. An MR image provides a higher resolution than CT scans for evaluating the adjacent cerebral structures and is very sensitive in detecting early abnormalities, even in asymptomatic patients. Bleomycin therapy requires close clinical monitoring. Imaging evaluation should be performed using MR imaging during treatment to ensure the safety of the therapy. In the authors' experience, the toxicity to bleomycin was transient. Management of the toxicity using high-dose steroid administration appears to contribute to controlling the bleomycin-induced inflammatory process.

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Katrin Scheinemann, Ute Bartels, Annie Huang, Cynthia Hawkins, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Eric Bouffet and Uri Tabori

Object

Intramedullary spinal cord low-grade gliomas (LGGs) are rare CNS neoplasms in pediatric patients, and there is little information on therapy for and outcome of these tumors in this population. Furthermore, most patient series combine adult and pediatric patients or high- and low-grade tumors, resulting in controversial data regarding optimal treatment of these children. To clarify these issues, the authors performed a regional population-based study of spinal cord LGGs in pediatric patients.

Methods

All pediatric patients with LGGs treated during the MR imaging era (1985–2007) were identified in the comprehensive database of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Data on demographics, pathology, treatment details, and outcomes were collected.

Results

Spinal cord LGGs in pediatric patients constituted 29 (4.6%) of 635 LGGs. Epidemiological and clinical data in this cohort were different than in patients with other spinal tumors and strikingly similar to data from pediatric patients with intracranial LGGs. The authors observed an age peak at 2 years and a male predominance in patients with these tumors. Histological testing revealed a Grade I astrocytoma in 86% of tumors. Although 5-year progression-free survival for the entire group was 48 ± 9%, all patients were alive at a median follow-up of 8.2 years. Five-year progression-free survival was 88 ± 13% for patients undergoing gross-total resection and 34 ± 11% for those undergoing all other therapies, respectively (p = 0.02). Chemotherapy and radiation therapy showed similar efficacy, achieving sustained tumor control in most patients. However, this excellent survival rate was associated with an 83% rate of significant neurological and orthopedic sequelae.

Conclusions

This study provides basic data on the incidence, clinical course, and outcome of spinal cord LGGs in pediatric patients. The similarities between spinal and intracranial LGGs in pediatric patients showing excellent survival but high morbidity suggest that a less aggressive approach may be the preferable treatment option for these patients.

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Niketa C. Shah, Amit Ray, Ute Bartels, James Rutka, Eric Bouffet, James Drake, Cynthia E. Hawkins and Annie Huang

✓ The authors report on 2 newborn infants with the unusual presentation of intrinsic brainstem tumors. Both nondysmorphic, full-term neonates had cranial nerve palsies and hypotonia. Diagnoses of diffuse intrinsic brainstem gliomas were made on the basis of magnetic resonance imaging, which showed large expansive, nonenhancing intrinsic pontine masses. Intrinsic pontine tumors, characteristically seen in school-age children, are most often high-grade gliomas that are almost invariably fatal. However, the microanatomy and natural history of pontine tumors in neonates are unknown. With parental consent, both newborns were treated expectantly with supportive care but died of progressive disease by 2 weeks of age. In one child, postmortem examination revealed a primary brainstem primitive neuroectodermal tumor. The authors conclude that, as in older children, neonatal intrinsic brainstem tumors may be of a highly malignant nature. The rapid tumor progression in both cases indicates that where a diagnostic procedure may pose significant risks, supportive observation can aid in distinguishing malignant from benign tumor growth.

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Michael J. Ellis, Samuel Cheshier, Sunjay Sharma, Derek Armstrong, Cynthia Hawkins, Eric Bouffet, James T. Rutka and Michael D. Taylor

Among the neoplastic conditions that affect patients with neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) are malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs), which typically arise from peripheral nerves of the limbs, trunk, and lumbar and brachial plexuses. Ionizing radiation is an established risk factor for MPNST development, especially in susceptible patients such as those with NF1. Patients with NF1 are also at risk for intracranial aneurysms, which are increasingly being successfully managed with endovascular therapies. The authors describe the case of a 9-year-old, previously healthy girl who presented in extremis with a right frontal intracerebral hemorrhage resulting from a ruptured right middle cerebral artery (MCA) trifurcation aneurysm. Following urgent decompressive craniectomy, the patient underwent endovascular coil embolization of the MCA aneurysm without complication. Given her mother's history of NF1, the child underwent genetic testing, which disclosed signs positive for NF1. The patient recovered well, but follow-up MR imaging and MR angiography performed at 14 months demonstrated a large frontotemporal mass encasing the right MCA trifurcation. The patient underwent frontotemporal craniotomy and subtotal resection of the mass, which was histologically found to be an intracranial MPNST. The patient received chemotherapy and focal radiation therapy and remains alive at 6 months postresection. To the authors' knowledge, this represents the only known case of intracranial neoplasm arising in the region of an intracranial aneurysm repaired by endovascular coil embolization. While patients with NF1 represent a population with genetic susceptibility to radiation-induced tumors, the pathogenesis of intracerebral MPNSTs remains poorly understood.