Purpose: To compare event-free survival (EFS), overall survival (OS), pattern of relapse, and hearing loss in children with standard-risk medulloblastoma treated by postoperative hyperfractionated or conventionally fractionated radiotherapy followed by maintenance chemotherapy.
Patients and methods: In all, 340 children age 4 to 21 years from 122 European centers were postoperatively staged and randomly assigned to treatment with hyperfractionated radiotherapy (HFRT) or standard (conventional) fractionated radiotherapy (STRT) followed by a common chemotherapy regimen consisting of eight cycles of cisplatin, lomustine, and vincristine.
Results: After a median follow-up of 4.8 years (range, 0.1 to 8.3 years), survival rates were not significantly different between the two treatment arms: 5-year EFS was 77% ± 4% in the STRT group and 78% ± 4% in the HFRT group; corresponding 5-year OS was 87% ± 3% and 85% ± 3%, respectively. A postoperative residual tumor of more than 1.5 cm(2) was the strongest negative prognostic factor. EFS of children with all reference assessments and no large residual tumor was 82% ± 2% at 5 years. Patients with a delay of more than 7 weeks to the start of RT had a worse prognosis. Severe hearing loss was not significantly different for the two treatment arms at follow-up.
Conclusion: In this large randomized European study, which enrolled patients with standard-risk medulloblastoma from more than 100 centers, excellent survival rates were achieved in patients without a large postoperative residual tumor and without RT treatment delays. EFS and OS for HFRT was not superior to STRT, which therefore remains standard of care in this disease.