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Andrew M. Heitzer, Kimberly Raghubar, M. Douglas Ris, Charles G. Minard, Marsha N. Gragert, Heather H. Stancel, Jessica Orobio, Judy Xue, William Whitehead, M. Fatih Okcu, Murali Chintagumpala, and Lisa S. Kahalley

OBJECTIVE

High survival rates have led to an increased emphasis on the functional outcomes of children diagnosed with low-grade glioma. Most outcomes research has focused on risks associated with radiotherapy, but less is known about neuropsychological risks for patients treated with surgery alone. Here, the authors sought to examine the neuropsychological trajectories of children diagnosed with a low-grade glioma and monitored up to 6 years postsurgery. Secondarily, they explored demographic and clinical predictors of neuropsychological performance.

METHODS

The neuropsychological functioning of 32 patients (median age at diagnosis 10.0 years) was prospectively assessed annually for up to 6 years after surgery (median days from surgery at baseline = 72). Tumor location was predominately supratentorial (65.6%). A combination of performance-based and parent-reported measures was used to assess intelligence, memory, executive functioning, and fine motor control in all patients.

RESULTS

Binomial tests at the postoperative baseline revealed that the proportion of children falling below the average range (< 16th percentile) was significantly higher than the rate expected among healthy peers on measures of verbal memory, processing speed, executive functioning, and fine motor control (p < 0.05). Even so, linear mixed models indicated that neuropsychological functioning at the postoperative baseline did not significantly change over time for up to 6 years after surgery across all domains. A larger tumor size was associated with a slower reaction time (p < 0.01). A supratentorial tumor location and history of seizures were associated with more parent-reported executive difficulties (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

While radiotherapy is a known risk factor for neuropsychological deficits in pediatric brain tumor patients, findings in this study indicate that children treated for low-grade glioma with surgery alone (without radiotherapy or chemotherapy) remain susceptible to difficulties with memory, executive functioning, and motor functioning that persist over time. Over half of the children in the study sample required school support services to address neuropsychological weaknesses. Although low-grade glioma is often conceptualized as a benign tumor, children treated for this lesion require ongoing monitoring and intervention to address neuropsychological weaknesses resulting from the tumor itself as well as the surgery.

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Vijay M. Ravindra, M. Fatih Okcu, Lucia Ruggieri, Thomas S. Frank, Arnold C. Paulino, Susan L. McGovern, Vincent E. Horne, Robert C. Dauser, William E. Whitehead, and Guillermo Aldave

OBJECTIVE

The authors compared survival and multiple comorbidities in children diagnosed with craniopharyngioma who underwent gross-total resection (GTR) versus subtotal resection (STR) with radiation therapy (RT), either intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) or proton beam therapy (PBT). The authors hypothesized that there are differences between multimodal treatment methods with respect to morbidity and progression-free survival (PFS).

METHODS

The medical records of children diagnosed with craniopharyngioma and treated surgically between February 1997 and December 2018 at Texas Children’s Hospital were reviewed. Surgical treatment was stratified as GTR or STR + RT. RT was further stratified as PBT or IMRT; PBT was stratified as STR + PBT versus cyst decompression (CD) + PBT. The authors used Kaplan-Meier analysis to compare PFS and overall survival, and chi-square analysis to compare rates for hypopituitarism, vision loss, and hypothalamic obesity (HyOb).

RESULTS

Sixty-three children were included in the analysis; 49% were female. The mean age was 8.16 years (95% CI 7.08–9.27). Twelve of 14 children in the IMRT cohort underwent CD. The 5-year PFS rates were as follows: 73% for GTR (n = 31), 54% for IMRT (n = 14), 100% for STR + PBT (n = 7), and 77% for CD + PBT (n = 11; p = 0.202). The overall survival rates were similar in all groups. Rates of hypopituitarism (96% GTR vs 75% IMRT vs 100% STR + PBT, 50% CD + PBT; p = 0.023) and diabetes insipidus (DI) (90% GTR vs 61% IMRT vs 85% STR + PBT, 20% CD + PBT; p = 0.004) were significantly higher in the GTR group. There was no significant difference in the HyOb or vision loss at the end of study follow-up among the different groups. Within the PBT group, 2 patients presented a progressive vasculopathy with subsequent strokes. One patient experienced a PBT-induced tumor.

CONCLUSIONS

GTR and CD + PBT presented similar rates of 5-year PFS. Hypopituitarism and DI rates were higher with GTR, but the rate of HyOb was similar among different treatment modalities. PBT may reduce the burden of hypopituitarism and DI, although radiation carries a risk of potential serious complications, including progressive vasculopathy and secondary malignancy. Further prospective study comparing neurocognitive outcomes is necessary.