OBJECTIVE: Intramedullary spinal cord tumors comprise 1%-10% of all childhood central nervous system neoplasms, with astrocytomas representing the most common subtype. Due to their rarity and poor prognosis, large population-based studies are needed to assess the epidemiology and survival risk factors associated with these tumors in the hope of improving outcome. The authors undertook this retrospective study to explore factors that may influence survival in pediatric patients with spinal cord astrocytomas. METHODS: Utilizing the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, a prospective cancer registry, the authors retrospectively assessed survival in histologically confirmed, primary spinal cord astrocytomas in patients 21 years of age and younger. Survival was described with Kaplan-Meyer curves, and a multivariate regression analysis was used to assess the association of several variables with survival while controlling for confounding variables. RESULTS: This analysis of 348 cases showed that age (hazard ratio [HR] 1.05, 95% CI 1.01-1.09, p = 0.017), nonwhite race (HR 1.74, 95% CI 1.11-2.74, p = 0.014), high-grade tumor status (HR 14.67, 95% CI 6.69-32.14, p < 0.001), distant or invasive extension of the tumor (HR 2.37, 95% CI 1.02-5.49, p = 0.046), and radiation therapy (HR 3.74, 95% CI 2.18-6.41, p < 0.001) were associated with decreased survival. Partial resection (HR 0.37, 95% CI 0.16-0.83, p = 0.017) and gross-total resection (HR 0.39, 95% CI 0.16-0.95, p = 0.039) were associated with improved survival. CONCLUSIONS: Younger age appears to be protective, while high-grade tumors have a much worse prognosis. Early diagnosis and access to surgery appears necessary for improving outcomes, while radiation therapy has an unclear role. There is still much to learn about this disease in the hope of curing children with the misfortune of having one of these rare tumors.
- Spinal cord
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Clinical Neurology