The choice of treatment modality for optic pathway gliomas (OPGs) is controversial. Chemotherapy is widely regarded as first-line therapy; however, subtotal resections have been reported for decompression or salvage therapy as first- and second-line treatment. The goal of this study was to further investigate the role and efficacy of resection for OPGs.
A retrospective chart review was performed on 83 children who underwent surgical treatment for OPGs between 1986 and 2014. Pathology was reviewed by a neuropathologist. Clinical outcomes, including progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and complications, were analyzed.
The 5- and 10-year PFS rates were 55% and 46%, respectively. The 5- and 10-year OS rates were 87% and 78%, respectively. The median extent of resection was 80% (range 30%–98%). Age less than 2 years at surgery and pilomyxoid features of the tumor were found to be associated with significantly lower 5-year OS. No difference was seen in PFS or OS of children treated with surgery as a first-line treatment compared with children with surgery as a second- or third-line treatment. Severe complications included new disabling visual deficit in 5%, focal neurological deficit in 8%, and infection in 2%. New hormone deficiency occurred in 22% of the children.
Approximately half of all children experience a long-term benefit from resection both as primary treatment and as a second-line therapy after failure of primary treatment. Primary surgery does not appear to have a significant benefit for children younger than 2 years or tumors with pilomyxoid features. Given the risks associated with surgery, an interdisciplinary approach is needed to tailor the treatment plan to the individual characteristics of each child.