Pilocytic astrocytomas (PAs) have a generally favorable prognosis; however, progression or recurrence after resection is possible. The prognostic value of histopathological qualifiers (defined below) or BRAF alterations is not well understood. The aim of this study was to identify the prognostic value of genetic and histopathological features of pediatric PAs.
Patients treated for a WHO grade I PA at a single institution were analyzed for histopathological and genetic features and outcomes. “Histopathological qualifier” refers to designations such as "WHO grade I PA with increased proliferative index." BRAF alterations include gene fusions and point mutations. Patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 were excluded.
A total of 222 patients were analyzed (51% female, mean age 9.6 years). Tumors were located in the cerebellum/fourth ventricle (51%), optic pathway/hypothalamus (15%), brainstem (12%), and cerebral cortex (11%). BRAF alterations were screened for in 77 patients and identified in 56 (73%). Histopathological qualifiers were present in 27 patients (14%). Resection was performed in 197 patients (89%), 41 (21%) of whom displayed tumor progression or recurrence after resection. Tumor progression or recurrence was not associated with histopathologic qualifiers (p = 0.36) or BRAF alterations (p = 0.77). Ki-67 proliferative indices were not predictive of progression or recurrence (p = 0.94). BRAF alterations, specifically KIAA1549 fusions, were associated with cerebellar/fourth ventricular tumor location (p < 0.0001) and younger patient age (p = 0.03). Patients in whom gross-total resection was achieved had lower rates of progression and recurrence (p < 0.0001).
Histopathological features/qualifiers and BRAF alterations were not associated with tumor recurrence/progression in pediatric PAs. The extent of resection was the only factor analyzed that predicted outcome.