Vincristine and carboplatin chemotherapy for unresectable and/or recurrent low-grade astrocytoma of the brainstem


  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to report.



Radiotherapy remains a widely accepted postoperative treatment modality for unresectable or recurrent low-grade glioma (LGG). However, there is increasing evidence to suggest that chemotherapy can delay and may obviate the need for radiotherapy in progressive/recurrent LGG. The majority of the published experience is in children with hypothalamic/optic chiasmatic lesions and little information is available regarding its use in LGG of the brainstem.


We describe clinical characteristics and course of children with LGG of the brainstem who received carboplatin-based chemotherapy in two institutions over 10 years (1996–2006). This was a retrospective review of consecutively treated children with LGG of the brainstem (midbrain, pons, medulla, and upper cervical cord). Vincristine and carboplatin were first-line chemotherapy regimen used in all patients.


In this series, there were 16 children (9 males) with median age at diagnosis of 4.2 years (range 0.5–8). Eight children were treated at diagnosis while the remaining eight received chemotherapy after either radiological progression or clinical deterioration. After a median follow-up of 57 months (range 20–136) from initiation of chemotherapy all children are alive and 11 remain progression free (1 complete response, 8 with partial response + minor response, and 2 stable diseases).


The efficacy of this chemotherapy regimen in this series supports its role in children with progressive unresectable LGG of brainstem. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2010;55:471–477. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.