Purpose: To describe the histologic spectrum and clinical characteristics of patients with neuroepithelial tumors and drug-resistant epilepsy and to analyze clinical data and treatment related to seizure outcome and survival.
Methods: Data were analyzed from 207 consecutive patients with intractable epilepsy (aged 2-54 years), who between 1988 and 1999 had >or=50% resection of supratentorial, neuroepithelial tumors. Extent of resection was assessed on postoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); seizure outcome was classified according to Engel's outcome scale; and follow-up data were prospectively updated.
Results: Median follow-up was eight years (range, 2-14 years). Histologic examination revealed 154 classic epilepsy-associated tumors (ganglioglioma, dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor, pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, and pilocytic astrocytomas) and 53 others (astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas). Four World Health Organization (WHO) grade III tumors were found (astrocytoma, n = 3; ganglioglioma, n = 1). After surgery, 82% of the patients were seizure free (class I). The following factors were associated with improved seizure outcome: Short duration of epilepsy before surgery, single EEG focus, absence of additional hippocampal sclerosis or cortical dysplasia, transsylvian approach, other than astrocytomas, and complete tumor resection. After 5 years, only nine (4%) patients had tumor recurrence, four (2%) with malignant transformation and death. None of the four patients with anaplastic tumors died. Even patients with astrocytomas of WHO grade II or III showed 10-year recurrence of only 25% and 10-year survival of 90%.
Conclusions: Tumors associated with long-term epilepsy should be removed early for two different reasons: high rate of seizure freedom and rare but potential risk of malignant tumor progression. The unexpected long survival of these astrocytomas should be investigated by using immunohistochemistry and molecular biology.