The prognostic significance of tumor grade and resection and the efficacy of prophylactic radiation remain controversial in the management of intracranial ependymoma. The outcomes in patients with intracranial ependymoma treated at the Kyoto University Hospital were reviewed retrospectively, and prognostic significance was analyzed.
Between 1972 and 2002, 29 patients were seen at the authors' institution. Eighteen cases involved a Grade II lesion according to the World Health Organization classification of ependymoma and 11 involved a Grade III lesion. Postoperative radiation was applied in 24 cases and chemotherapy was administered in nine. Overall survival and progression-free survival rates were significantly higher in patients with Grade II ependymoma (p = 0.006 and 0.004, respectively) and in patients who had undergone gross-total resection of the tumor (p = 0.002 and 0.04, respectively). Fourteen patients relapsed from 10 to 120 months (median 39 months) after diagnosis. In nine patients the ependymoma recurred only at the original tumor site. Three patients experienced both local and distant relapse, whereas two others had only a distant relapse. All relapses of the Grade II ependymoma initially occurred at the primary tumor site. Histological grade and extent of resection were significantly associated with tumor dissemination (p = 0.0034 and 0.0011, respectively). The field of postoperative radiation had no impact on patient survival or lesion recurrence.
Tumor grade and resection are the two important prognostic factors with respect to patient survival, tumor recurrence, and tumor dissemination. Considering that relapses were predominantly local and that there was no apparent benefit from prophylactic radiation, the authors concluded that postoperative radiation should be focused on local control, especially for Grade II ependymomas.