Treatment of optic pathway hypothalamic gliomas in childhood: experience with 18 consecutive cases

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2008 Mar;30(3):222-4. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0b013e318162bd6a.


The aim of this study was to present our 17-year experience (1989 to 2006) in the treatment of optic pathway/hypothalamic gliomas (OPHG) in 18 children younger than 17 years (median age, 66 mo). Only 2 of these had evidence of neurofibromatosis-1. OPHG was diagnosed using computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging. Histologic studies showed low-grade astrocytoma (WHO grade I or II) in 16 cases, anaplastic astrocytoma in 1, and oligoastrocytoma (WHO grade III) in 1. Treatment included partial tumor resection in 12 patients, chemotherapy in 5, and radiotherapy in 3. Ophthalmologic and visual alterations occurred in 12 patients, endocrine alterations in 6, and neurologic signs in 5. All treatment modalities led to tumor shrinkage and stabilization for a variable period, but none of them totally eradicated the tumor. Fourteen (78%) of 18 patients had a sustained reduction of tumor size between 6 months and 17 years. The 5-year overall and progression-free survival rates were 80.0% and 63.3%, respectively. Fifty-six percent of patients had endocrinologic sequelae, with growth hormone deficiency being the most common. Two patients died, none with neurofibromatosis-1, with a hypothalamic/chiasmatic tumor with suprasellar extension and accompanying electrolyte abnormalities. Because progression of these tumors is slow and associated with endocrinopathy, we recommend chemotherapy as a primary treatment of OPHG if the disease progresses.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Hypothalamic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Optic Nerve Glioma / diagnosis
  • Optic Nerve Glioma / therapy*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Pathways / pathology*