Survival and neurodevelopmental outcome of young children with medulloblastoma at St Jude Children's Research Hospital

Andrew W. Walter, Raymond K. Mulhern, Amar Gajjar, Richard L. Heideman, David Reardon, R. Alex Sanford, Xiaoping Xiong, Larry E. Kun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


Purpose: Young children treated for medulloblastoma are at especially high risk for morbidity and mortality from their disease and therapy. This study sought to assess the relationship, if any, between patient outcome and M stage. Neuropsychologic and endocrine outcomes were also assessed. Patients and Methods: Twenty-nine consecutively diagnosed infants and young children were treated for medulloblastoma at St Jude Children's Research Hospital between November 1984 and December 1995. All patients were treated with the intent of using postoperative chemotherapy to delay planned irradiation. Results: The median age at diagnosis was 2.6 years. Six patients completed planned chemotherapy without progressive disease and underwent irradiation at completion of chemotherapy. Twenty-three children experienced disease progression during chemotherapy and underwent irradiation at the time of progression. The 5-year overall survival rate for the entire cohort was 51% ± 10%. The 5-year progression-free survival rate was 21% ± 8%. M stage did not impact survival. All patients lost cognitive function during and after therapy at a rate of -3.9 intelligence quotient points per year (P = .0028). Sensory functions declined significantly after therapy (P = .007). All long- term survivors required hormone replacement therapy and had growth abnormalities. Conclusion: The majority of infants treated for medullablastoma experienced disease progression during initial chemotherapy. However, more than half of these patients can be cured with salvage radiation therapy, regardless of M stage. The presence of metastatic disease did not increase the risk of dying from medullablastoma. All patients treated in this fashion have significant neuropsychologic deficits. Our experience demonstrates that medulloblastoma in infancy is a curable disease, albeit at a significant cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3720-3728
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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