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Acta Neurol Belg. 2005 Sep;105(3):137-43.

The role of chemotherapy in the treatment of low-grade glioma. A review of the literature.

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  • 1Medische Oncologie, Oncologisch Centrum, Academisch Ziekenhuis Vrije Universiteit Brussel (AZ-VUB), Brussel, Belgium.


Low-grade gliomas (LGG) are a group of uncommon neuroglial tumors of the central nervous system. They are characterized by a grade I or II according to the WHO classification. Grade I tumors are non-invasive and amenable to surgical resection with curative intent. Diffuse infiltrating LGG (WHO grade II) are tumors with a highly variable prognosis. Curative resection can only rarely be achieved and progression is characterized by transformation into a high-grade glioma (WHO grade III-IV). There are only limited evidence-based treatment recommendations for the management of progressive LGG because of a lack of data from prospective randomized trials. Most often radiotherapy is offered to patients with symptomatic and/or progressive disease. Three randomized trials have failed to demonstrate a survival improvement with either early versus delayed radiation or with a higher dose of radiation. The potential role of chemotherapy for the treatment of LGG has only been addressed in phase II trials. The PCV-chemotherapy regimen is associated with considerable toxicity that limits its applicability. The results with temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy have been more promising. Patients with chemosensitive LGG as predicted by heterozygotic loss of chromosomal arms Ip and 19q or methylation of the promoter of the MGMT-gene in the genome of the glioma cells respond to TMZ. Radiotherapy will be compared to chemotherapy asfirst line treatment for LGG in two phase III studies that are planned for by the brain tumor group of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (BTG-EORTC) and Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG).

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