Spinal cord astrocytomas: Results of therapy

Howard M. Sandler, Stephen M. Papadopoulos, Allan F. Thornton, Donald A. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Spinal cord astrocytomas are rare lesions, usually of low grade, with a long natural history. Because of this, it is difficult to define the optimum approach to therapy based on available data. To provide more data, a retrospective review was performed. From 1975 through 1989, 21 patients were seen and treated (median age, 21 years), and 15 patients received radiation therapy after undergoing either biopsy or resection. The median time until death or the last follow-up examination was 41 months. The actuarial survival of all patients was 68% at 5 years. Of the five deaths, four were related to local tumor recurrence. The overall survival and recurrence-free survival of irradiated patients at 5 years was 57% and 44%, respectively. The age of the patient was a prognostic factor, with younger patients surviving substantially longer before recurrence. Of the 15 irradiated patients, 7 experienced recurrence of the tumor, which occurred within the irradiated portion of the spinal cord in all 7. Gross total resections were rarely achieved and, also, the extent of resection did not influence the risk for recurrence. In summary, we observed a long natural history for this disease, and although additional local therapy appears needed, it is unclear that either higher doses of radiation or more extensive surgery will decrease the risk of recurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-493
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytomas
  • Radiotherapy
  • Spinal cord tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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