Open Access Research article

Retrospective analysis of treatment outcome in 315 patients with oligodendroglial brain tumors

J Vesper1*, E Graf2, C Wille1, J Tilgner3, M Trippel3, G Nikkhah3 and CB Ostertag3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Functional Neurosurgery, Neurosurgical Clinic, Heinrich-Heine University Duesseldorf, Germany

2 Department of Biometry and Data Management, Center for Clinical Studies, University of Freiburg, Germany

3 Department of Stereotactic Neurosurgery, Neurocenter, University of Freiburg, Germany

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BMC Neurology 2009, 9:33  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-9-33

Published: 16 July 2009


Although chemotherapy with procarbazine, lomustine and vincristine (PCV) is considered to be well tolerated, side effects frequently lead to dose reduction or even discontinuation of treatment of oligodendroglial brain tumors. The primary objective of the analysis was to retrospectively compare progression-free survival (PFS) after PCV vs. PC chemotherapy (without vincristine to avoid side effects). Patients were retrospectively identified from a database containing our patients between 1990 and 2003. For the selected cases, all histopathology reports were re-evaluated by a local neuropathologist. Based on the updated histology data, patients were included in the study if they had at least one histological diagnosis of an oligodendroglial tumor. PFS after start of PCV (n = 61) and PC (n = 84) chemotherapy identical (median 30 months). Multivariate analysis adjusting for prognostic imbalances favouring the PC group showed a minor, statistically non-significant benefit for PCV (hazard ratio 0.81, 95% confidence interval 0.53–1.25; p = 0.346). Younger age (< 50 y) was a statistically significant predictor of longer PFS. Significant advantages in terms of overall survival after first diagnosis of oligodendroglial tumor (OS, n = 315) were found for patients < 50 y (p < 0.001), oligodendrogliomas versus oligoastrocytomas (p = 0.002), and WHO°II vs. °III (p < 0.001). Three risk groups regarding OS were identified. Findings support the hypothesis that PC may be as effective as PCV chemotherapy, while avoiding the additonal risks of vincristine. Younger age, lower tumor grade and histology of an oligodendroglioma were identified to be favorable prognostic factors.