Medulloblastoma: Long-term results for patients treated with definitive radiation therapy during the computed tomography era

Thomas E. Merchant, Ming Hsien Wang, Toni Haida, Karen L. Lindsley, Jonathan Finlay, Ira J. Dunkel, Marc K. Rosenblum, Steven A. Leibel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Purpose: We performed a retrospective evaluation of the patterns of failure and outcome for medulloblastoma patients treated with craniospinal irradiation therapy during the conputed tomography (CT) era. Materials and Methods: The records of 100 patients treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center between 1979 and 1994 were reviewed. CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging were used to guide surgical intervention and evaluate the extent of resection postoperatively. All patients were treated with conventional fractionation (1.8 Gy/day) and the majority received full-dose neuraxis radiation therapy and > 50 Gy to the primary site. Results: With a median follow-up of 100 months, the median, 5-year, and 10-year actuarial overall survival for the entire group were 58 months, 50%, and 25%, respectively. The median, 5- and 10-year actuarial disease-free survivals were 37 months, 41%, and 27%, respectively. Patients with localized disease (no evidence of disease beyond the primary site) had significantly improved overall (p <0.112) and disease-free (p <0.02) survivals compared to those with nonlocalized disease. For patients with localized disease, the 5- and 10-year overall survival rates were 59% and 31%, whereas the disease-free survivals were 49% and 31%, respectively. Disease free and overall survivals at similar intervals for patients with nonlocalized disease were 29% and 30% (5 years), and 29% and 20% (10 years), respectively. Sixty-four of 100 patients failed treatment. Local failure as any component of first failure occurred in 35% of patients or 55% (35 of 64) of all failures and as the only site of first failure in 14% or 22% (14 of 64) of all failures. For patients presenting with localized disease (n = 68), local failure as any component of first failure occurred in 32% (22 of 68) and in 18% (12 of 68) as the only site. A multivariate analysis showed that M stage was the only prognostic factor to influence overall survival. For disease-free survival, M stage and the extent of resection were prognostic factors. Ventriculoperitoneal shunting and the use of chemotherapy were associated with a poor outcome; however, these results were confounded by the positive impact of chemotherapy in decreasing the risk of extraneural metastases and the use of these therapies in the more advanced patients. Conclusion: These long-term follow- up data represent one of the largest series of patients with complete follow- up who were treated with a consistent radiation therapy treatment policy during the CT era. Local failure in patients with localized disease, the persistent risk of late failures, treatment-related toxicity, and the ever- present risk of secondary malignancies demonstrate the limitations of standard therapies. Strategies used to increase the total dose to the primary site should be pursued along with other adjuvant therapies such as intensive chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


Dive into the research topics of 'Medulloblastoma: Long-term results for patients treated with definitive radiation therapy during the computed tomography era'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this