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Ági Oszvald, Erdem Güresir, Matthias Setzer, Hartmut Vatter, Christian Senft, Volker Seifert and Kea Franz

Object

The objective of this study was to analyze whether age influences the outcome of patients with glioblastoma and whether elderly patients with glioblastoma can tolerate the same aggressive treatment as younger patients.

Methods

Data from 361 consecutive patients with newly diagnosed cerebral glioblastoma (2000–2006) who underwent regular follow-up evaluation from initial diagnosis until death were prospectively entered into a database. Patients underwent resection (complete, subtotal, or partial) or biopsy, depending on tumor size, location, and Karnofsky Performance Scale score. Following surgery, all patients underwent adjuvant treatment consisting of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or combined treatment. Patients older than 65 years of age were defined as elderly (146 total).

Results

Two hundred thirty-four patients underwent tumor resection (complete 26%, subtotal 29%, and partial 45%). One hundred twenty-seven underwent biopsy. Mean patient age was 61 years, and overall survival was 11.6 ± 12.1 months. The overall survival of elderly patients (9.1 ± 11.6 months) was significantly lower than that of younger patients (14.9 ± 16.7 months; p = 0.0001). Stratifying between resection or biopsy, age was a negative prognostic factor in patients undergoing biopsy (4.0 ± 7.1 vs 7.9 ± 8.7 months; p = 0.007), but not in patients undergoing tumor resection (13.0 ± 8.5 vs 13.3 ± 14.5 months; p = 0.86). Survival of elderly patients undergoing complete tumor resection was 17.7 ± 8.1 months.

Conclusions

In this series of patients with glioblastoma, age was a prognostic factor in patients undergoing biopsy, but not in patients undergoing resection. Tumor location and patient clinical status may prohibit extensive resection, but resection should not be withheld from patients only on the basis of age. In elderly patients with glioblastoma, undergoing resection to the extent feasible, followed by adjuvant therapies, is warranted.

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Andrew E. Sloan

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Walter Stummer, Jörg-Christian Tonn, Hubertus Maximilian Mehdorn, Ulf Nestler, Kea Franz, Claudia Goetz, Andrea Bink and Uwe Pichlmeier

Object

Accumulating data suggest more aggressive surgery in patients with malignant glioma to improve outcome. However, extended surgery may increase morbidity. The randomized Phase III 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) study investigated 5-ALA–induced fluorescence as a tool for improving resections. An interim analysis demonstrated more frequent complete resections with longer progression-free survival (PFS). However, marginal differences were found regarding neurological deterioration and the frequency of additional therapies. Presently, the authors focus on the latter aspects in the final study population, and attempt to determine how safety might be affected by cytoreductive surgery.

Methods

Patients with malignant gliomas were randomized for fluorescence-guided (ALA group) or conventional white light (WL) (WL group) microsurgery. The final intent-to-treat population consisted of 176 patients in the ALA and 173 in the WL group. Primary efficacy variables were contrast-enhancing tumor on early MR imaging and 6-month PFS. Among secondary outcome measures, the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIH-SS) score and the Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score were used for assessing neurological function.

Results

More frequent complete resections and improved PFS were confirmed, with higher median residual tumor volumes in the WL group (0.5 vs 0 cm3, p = 0.001). Patients in the ALA group had more frequent deterioration on the NIH-SS at 48 hours. Patients at risk were those with deficits unresponsive to steroids. No differences were found in the KPS score. Regarding outcome, a combined end point of risks and neurological deficits was attempted, which demonstrated results in patients in the ALA group to be superior to those in participants in the WL group. Interestingly, the cumulative incidence of repeat surgery was significantly reduced in ALA patients. When stratified by completeness of resection, patients with incomplete resections were quicker to deteriorate neurologically (p = 0.0036).

Conclusions

Extended resections performed using a tool such as 5-ALA–derived tumor fluorescence, carries the risk of temporary impairment of neurological function. However, risks are higher in patients with deficits unresponsive to steroids.