Recurrent high-grade glioma

Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2010 Jul;12(4):321-33. doi: 10.1007/s11940-010-0078-5.


Opinions vary on the best treatment options for recurrent high-grade glioma. Some argue that bevacizumab should become standard of care for patients with recurrent glioblastoma, especially in light of recent FDA approval for this indication. However, this opinion is not uniformly accepted. Age, performance status, histology, tumor size and location, O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) methylation status for glioblastoma, 1p/19q status for oligodendroglial tumors, and the number and types of prior therapies are important considerations. In addition, recurrent disease must be distinguished from "pseudoprogression" due to treatment effects. Enrollment in a clinical trial is the optimal choice for most patients with recurrent high-grade glioma after failure of radiation therapy and temozolomide. For patients who are ineligible or do not have access to clinical trials, then either bevacizumab monotherapy or bevacizumab in combination with a second agent such as irinotecan is recommended. Involved-field external beam radiation should be considered for patients with anaplastic gliomas who have not received radiation. For patients with anaplastic astrocytoma who progress after radiotherapy, temozolomide may be used. For patients with anaplastic oligodendroglioma who progress after radiotherapy, PCV chemotherapy and temozolomide are options. Oligodendroglial tumors with 1p/19q deletions are more likely to respond to treatment. In the past, carmustine was commonly used to treat recurrent high-grade glioma, but the utility of carmustine in the modern era is unknown because most studies were performed prior to the widespread use of temozolomide. High-precision re-irradiation such as stereotactic radiosurgery is another option in high-grade glioma, especially for patients with poor bone marrow reserve or inability to tolerate chemotherapy, but there is a paucity of studies with adequate controls. Surgery may be useful as adjuvant treatment for patients with symptoms due to mass effect or for patients requiring definitive histopathology, but it generally should be combined with another treatment modality. Emerging therapies, including dose-intense temozolomide regimens, targeted molecular inhibitors, other antiangiogenic therapies, viral gene therapies, immunotherapies, and convection-enhanced delivery of targeted immunotoxins, are still under investigation.