Context: Patients with malignant glioma (grade III or IV) face a poor prognosis, and few evidence-based treatment guidelines are available. There is a dearth of prospective data on patterns of care for these patients.
Objective: To provide benchmark data to enable comparison of individual practice patterns and outcomes.
Design, setting, and patients: The Glioma Outcomes (GO) Project enrolled 788 patients at 52 clinical sites, both academic and community practices, between December 1997 and July 2000. The enrollment criteria included adult patients with primary grade III or IV glioma undergoing a first or second operation for diagnosis or treatment. The data collection instruments included questionnaire forms given at enrollment, during the perioperative period, and at follow-up intervals of 3 months until death or a maximum of 24 months. Of the patients recorded in the GO database, 565 patients with newly diagnosed tumors were used for this analysis.
Main outcome measures: Patterns of care (surgical management, perioperative care, postoperative management).
Results: Most patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging (n = 518; 92%) and an attempt at tumor resection (n = 425; 75%). Cortical mapping (n = 107; 19%) and intraoperative image guidance (n = 161; 29%) were uncommon. Most received perioperative corticosteroids (n = 535; 99%) and antiepileptic medications (n = 497; 88%), but few received antidepressants (n = 38; 8%) or prophylactic heparin (n = 42; 7%). Most received adjuvant radiation therapy (n = 479; 87%), but fewer received chemotherapy (n = 300; 54%). Practice patterns varied significantly between academic and community settings.
Conclusions: Reliance on magnetic resonance imaging, surgery, and radiation is generally accepted; however, relatively infrequent chemotherapy use may conflict with published literature, and frequent use of prophylactic antiepileptic medications contradicts established practice guidelines. Other practice patterns involving surgical adjuncts, prophylactic heparin, and antidepressants require further investigation to clarify appropriateness. Establishing further clinical guidelines may help reduce variability in practice patterns.