Oligodendroglioma: incidence and biological behavior in a defined population

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, Rikshospitalet, The National Hospital University of Oslo, Oslo; Departments of Pathology and Neurosurgery, and Section for Medical Information and Statistics, University of Bergen, Bergen; Department of Pathology, University of Trondheim, Trondheim; Department of Neurosurgery, Oslo City Hospital, Oslo; The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo; and the Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo, Norway
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✓ The cases of 208 patients with histologically confirmed oligodendrogliomas were studied. The incidence represents 4.2% of all primary brain tumors diagnosed in the Norwegian population over a 25-year period. All of these tumors were cerebral and the majority affected the frontal lobe. The patients' median age at diagnosis was 47 years, with a range from 3 to 76 years; 6% of the oligodendrogliomas occurred in children. The median duration of symptoms before diagnosis was 20.5 months (mean 43 months). Plain skull x-ray films showed calcified deposits in 28% of the tumors. At operation, most of the tumors were poorly defined, without cyst formation, hematoma necrosis, or calcification. The median duration of disease from onset of symptoms until death was 14 months in nine untreated cases. In surgically treated oligodendroglioma patients the median survival time from onset of symptoms was 74 months. The median postoperative survival time was 35 months (mean 52 months). Tumor calcification, as seen on plain skull x-ray films, was associated with a significantly longer survival period. The surgical findings of gross necrosis, gross hypervascularity, and soft tumor consistency were all related to a shorter total duration of disease. Grossly well demarcated lesions were associated with a significantly longer postoperative survival. The length of postoperative survival correlated with the preoperative clinical status. The cumulative proportion of patients surviving 5 years was 0.342. The patient's age and sex did not have a statistically significant influence on survival time. The extent of surgical excision only seemed to play a role when the neurosurgeon considered that he had removed the whole lesion: these patients had a median postoperative survival period 14 months longer than the other oligodendroglioma patients. The ABO blood group of the oligodendroglioma patient was of prognostic value. In particular, patients with blood group A had a distinctly poorer prognosis than patients with O or B blood. The survival data from this unselected series indicate that cerebral oligodendrogliomas have a less favorable prognosis than has generally been believed.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Sverre J. Mørk, M.D., Department of Pathology, University of Bergen, N-5016 Haukeland Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
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