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Childs Nerv Syst. 2013 Jul;29(7):1107-12. doi: 10.1007/s00381-013-2104-x. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Relapse in medulloblastoma: what can be done after abandoning high-dose chemotherapy? A mono-institutional experience.

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Pediatric Oncology Unit, Fond. IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milano, Via Venezian, 1-20133, Milan, Italy.
Pediatric Oncology Unit, Fond. IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milano, Via Venezian, 1-20133, Milan, Italy.
Genetics Unit, Ospedale S.Anna, Como, Italy.
Radiotherapy Unit, Fond. IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milano, Milan, Italy.
Neurosurgery Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milano, Milan, Italy.
Department of Pathology, San Paolo Hospital and Department of Health Sciences, University of Milano, Milan, Italy.



We retrospectively report strategies used for medulloblastoma patients progressing after craniospinal irradiation where we aimed for: symptom control, a satisfactory quality of life, accrual in phase 1-2 trials, when available, and the first two conditions could no longer be satisfied by already experienced second-line strategies.


Surgery was used in cases of doubtful relapse or when only one site was affected. Radiotherapy was given whenever possible, especially to relieve symptoms. The main chemotherapy regimens were oral temozolomide/etoposide, intravenous (iv.) cisplatin/etoposide, iv. gemcitabine/oxaliplatin, an oral sonic hedgehog pathway inhibitor and oral melphalan.


Between 1998 and 2011, we treated 18 patients relapsed after median 20 months. Nine had relapsed locally, four had dissemination, three single metastases, and two had one synchronous local and metastatic recurrence. Responses to chemotherapy were seen in 32% of cases. The median hospital stay for treatments/complications was 19 days. The 1- and 3-year progression-free survival (PFS) rates were 28 ± 10% and 0%, respectively, for OS, they were 44 ± 12% and 22 ± 10% but no patient was cured. The median PFS after a first relapse was 7 months (range 1-29); the median OS was 7 months (range 4-44). No patients died due to treatment toxicity. Late recurrence (more than 1-2 years after diagnosis) and involvement of single sites were favorable prognostic factors.


Without succeeding in patients cure, we ensured them further treatment with short hospital stay thus affording low personal and social costs. The chances of cure may emerge from tailored therapies according to genetic stratification.


Childhood brain tumors; Dissemination; Hospital stay; Medulloblastoma; Treatment toxicity

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