Patterns of failure in children with medulloblastoma: Effects of preirradiation chemotherapy

William F. Hartsell, Amar Gajjar, Richard L. Heideman, James A. Langston, Robert A. Sanford, Andrew Walter, Dana Jones, Gang Chen, Larry E. Kun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the effects of preirradiation chemotherapy on patterns of failure in children with medulloblastoma. Methods and Materials: Fifty-three patients (pts) with medulloblastoma were given preirradiation chemotherapy as initial postoperative treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital from November 1984 to September 1993. Patients ≤3 years of age (η = 23) received chemotherapy (CH) with delayed craniospinal irradiation (CSI). Children ≤3 years with more advanced disease (T3b-T4, M+ or measurable residual after resection) were given CH followed by CSI (30 patients). Chemotherapy regimen depended on protocol, but usually included cis- or carboplatin and etoposide, ± cyclophosphamide and vincristine. Results: Actuarial overall survival and event-free survival rates are 60% (95% confidence interval [41,79]) and 37% [19 85] at 5 years. Children ≤3 at diagnosis: six of 23 pts completed CH without progression and received consolidative CSI; all six are alive with no evidence of disease (NED) at 2.4-9.1 years. Seventeen patients progressed during CH and were then given CSI. Sites of progression during CH were posterior fossa (PF) in 11 patients, neuraxis (NEUR) in 4, and PF+NEUR in 2. Following CSI, 7 patients are alive NED at 2.0-8.6 years; 10 patients died of progressive disease. Eleven patients had M0 disease at diagnosis; 8 (73%) progressed during CH, 3 in the neuraxis. Children ≤3 at diagnosis: 20 of 30 patients completed pre-CSI CH without progression; 15 are alive NED at 1.3-9.2 years, and 5 showed post- CSI progression in the PF (η = 3), in the NEUR (η = 1) and in bone marrow (η = 1). Ten of the 30 (33%) patients progressed on CH (6 in NEUR, 4 in PF); 5 are alive and NED or with stable disease. Seventeen patients had M0 disease at diagnosis; 3 out of 17 (18%) progressed during CH, 2 in NEUR and 1 in an extraneural site. In the total group of 30 patients, 11 have had disease recurrence after completion of XRT. The actuarial rate of failure was 23 ± 9% for the patients ≤3 years of age and 21 ± 8% for the older children when evaluated at 4 months after diagnosis (at the completion of chemotherapy in the older children but during the ongoing chemotherapy in the younger children). Conclusions: In patients presenting with M0 disease and receiving pre-CSI chemotherapy, the risk of neuraxis progression seems to increase with duration of chemotherapy. The sites of progression during preirradiation chemotherapy are nearly equally divided between posterior fossa and other neuraxis sites. CSI salvage of patients progressing on chemotherapy is possible in approximately 50% of patients. Following CSI, neuraxis progression is more frequent than posterior fossa relapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 1997


  • Medulloblastoma
  • Patterns of failure
  • Preirradiation chemotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Patterns of failure in children with medulloblastoma: Effects of preirradiation chemotherapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this