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Acta Neurochir (Wien). 1995;136(3-4):117-26.

Secondary manifestation of medulloblastoma: metastases and local recurrences in 66 patients.

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Department of Neurosurgery, RWTH Aachen, Federal Republic of Germany.


Although primary treatment of medulloblastoma is now successful in a high percentage of patients, its secondary manifestations still bear a poor prognosis. Thorough studies of secondary manifestations are therefore pivotal to plan therapeutic approaches for the long-term management of medulloblastoma. Here we describe the incidence of secondary tumour manifestations in 66 patients of a single centre who underwent surgery for medulloblastoma between 1975 and 1990. No patient was excluded due to a poor postoperative course. Thirty-five patients showed evidence of secondary tumour growth. Of these, 17 suffered from local recurrence, and 27 developed metastastatic disease. The median latencies for secondary manifestations were 25 months for local recurrence (n = 17), 11 months for spinal metastases (n = 10), 15 months for supratentorial metastases (n = 8), 8 months for subleptomeningeal dissemination (n = 6), and 23 months for systemic metastases (n = 8). Two patients developed primary metastatic spread to the posterior fossa. Of 8 patients with supratentorial metastases, 6 developed fronto-basal lesions. In our patients, 89% of secondary lesions occurred within less than 3 years after primary diagnosis. 85% of patients with extra-axial tumour spread had been treated with a permanent shunt. Radical tumour resection and radiotherapy with 30 Gy to the neuraxis and 20 Gy boost to the posterior fossa was an important prognostic factor in this series. Patients with additional chemotherapy did not benefit significantly from this treatment. We conclude that optimal management of the primary lesions should aim at (i) total resection, (ii) avoid permanent shunting, and (iii) completion of the radiotherapy with inclusion of the medial frontobasal cisterns in the radiotherapeutic regimen. Our analysis suggests that adequate postoperative screening programmes should consist of 3-monthly scans of the neuraxis in the first three postoperative years and 6-monthly scans thereafter.

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