Radiotherapy for newly diagnosed malignant glioma in adults: a systematic review

Radiother Oncol. 2002 Sep;64(3):259-73. doi: 10.1016/s0167-8140(02)00078-6.


Purpose: A systematic review was conducted to develop guidelines for radiotherapy in adult patients with newly diagnosed malignant glioma.

Methods: MEDLINE, CANCERLIT, the Cochrane Library, and relevant conference proceedings were searched to identify randomized trials and meta-analyses.

Results: Pooling of six randomized trials detected a significant survival benefit favouring post-operative radiotherapy compared with no radiotherapy (risk ratio, 0.81; 95% confidence interval, 0.74 to 0.88, P<0.00001). Two randomized trials demonstrated no significant difference in survival rates for whole brain radiation versus more local fields that encompass the enhancing primary plus a 2 cm margin. A randomized trial detected a small improvement in survival with 60 Gy in 30 fractions over 45 Gy in 20 fractions. Radiation dose intensification and radiation sensitizer approaches have not demonstrated superior survival rates compared with conventionally fractionated doses of 50-60 Gy.

Conclusions: Post-operative external beam radiotherapy is recommended as standard therapy for patients with malignant glioma. The high-dose volume should incorporate the enhancing tumour plus a limited margin (e.g. 2 cm) for the planning target volume, and the total dose delivered should be in the range of 50-60 Gy in fraction sizes of 1.8-2.0 Gy. Radiation dose intensification and radiation sensitizer approaches are not recommended as standard care. For patients older than age 70, preliminary data suggest that the same survival benefit can be achieved with less morbidity using a shorter course of radiotherapy. Supportive care alone is a reasonable therapeutic option in patients older than age 70 with a poor performance status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Glioma / mortality
  • Glioma / radiotherapy*
  • Glioma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Radiosurgery
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Survival Rate