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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2000 Jun 1;47(3):561-4.

A detrimental effect of a combined chemotherapy-radiotherapy approach in children with diffuse intrinsic brain stem gliomas?

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McGill University, Montreal, PQ, Canada.



To compare the proportion of patients that survive at least 1 year following treatment with hyper-fractionated radiotherapy (HRT) to a dose of 70.2 Gy on Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) study #8495 with that of patients treated with similar radiotherapy plus cisplatinum given by continuous infusion on weeks 1, 3, and 5 of radiotherapy on POG #9239.


The eligibility criteria for the two studies were identical and included age 3 to 21 years, previously untreated tumor involving the brain stem of which two-thirds was in the pons, history less than 6 months, and clinical findings typical for diffuse intrinsic brain stem glioma, including cranial nerve deficits, long tract signs, and ataxia. The outcome of 57 patients who were treated at the 70.2 Gy dose level of POG #8495 between May 1986 and February 1988 was compared with that of 64 patients treated with identical radiotherapy plus cisplatinum on POG #9239 between June 1992 and March 1996.


The number of patients accrued to POG #9239 was determined to guarantee that the probability was at least 0.80 of correctly detecting that the 1-year survival rate exceeded that of patients on POG #8495 by 0.2. However, the z value for this test was -1.564, giving a p value of 0.9411. That is, there is almost sufficient evidence to conclude that survival for patients receiving HRT plus cisplatinum on POG #9239 was worse than that for patients receiving the same radiotherapy alone on POG #8495.


The finding that patients who received cisplatinum given as a radiosensitizing agent concurrent with HRT fared less well than those receiving the same dose of HRT alone was unexpected and is clearly a cause for concern as many current protocols for patients with diffuse intrinsic brain stem gliomas call for use of chemotherapeutic and/or biological agents given concurrent with radiotherapy.

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