Recent aspects of classification and epidemiology of epilepsy-associated tumors



Epileptic seizures are frequent manifestations of brain tumors. However, biopsy specimens of patients who undergo neurosurgical removal of circumscribed foci to control chronic recurrent pharmacoresistant seizures often reveal tumor entities that are rare in general brain tumor series. The spectrum of these “long-term epilepsy-associated neoplasms” comprises highly differentiated glial and glioneuronal tumors that show a benign biologic behavior and clinical course, and that rarely relapse. Several entities are well recognizable on the basis of histopathologic and immunohistochemical characteristics. An intriguing functional aspect of these tumors, sometimes collectively referred to as “epileptomas,” is their prominent epileptogenicity, which may represent a clinical feature indicating rather than causing the generally benign biologic behavior of these tumors. A frequent feature of respective neoplasms is their coincidence with dysplastic lesions in the vicinity of the tumor itself. The recent advent of new molecular markers, including genomic alterations leading to activation of the protooncogene BRAF and impaired function of isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH1), provides excellent new tools in the differential diagnosis of low grade brain tumors, and provides intriguing implications to further develop the pathogenetic concepts of these neoplasms. Despite this progress, a number of tumors from patients with chronic epilepsy show combinations of cytologic, histologic, and immunohistochemical characteristics that challenge the current neuropathologic classification schemes. Attempts are currently ongoing to develop further classification schemes.