Pathology concordance levels for meningioma classification and grading in NRG Oncology RTOG Trial 0539

Neuro Oncol. 2016 Apr;18(4):565-74. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nov247. Epub 2015 Oct 22.


Background: With advances in the understanding of histopathology on outcome, accurate meningioma grading becomes critical and drives treatment selection. The 2000 and 2007 WHO schema greatly increased the proportion of grade II meningiomas. Although associations with progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) have been independently validated, interobserver concordance has not been formally assessed.

Methods: Once mature, NRG Oncology RTOG-0539 will report PFS and OS in variably treated low-, intermediate-, and high-risk cohorts. We address concordance of histopathologic assessment between enrolling institutions and central review, performed by a single pathologist (AP), who is also involved in developing current WHO criteria.

Results: The trial included 170 evaluable patients, 2 of whom had 2 eligible pathology reviews from different surgeries, resulting in 172 cases for analysis. Upon central review, 76 cases were categorized as WHO grade I, 71 as grade II, and 25 as grade III. Concordance for tumor grade was 87.2%. Among patients with WHO grades I, II, and III meningioma, respective concordance rates were 93.0%, 87.8%, and 93.6% (P values < .0001). Moderate to substantial agreement was encountered for individual grading criteria and were highest for brain invasion, ≥20 mitoses/10 high-powered field [HPF], and spontaneous necrosis, and lowest for small cells, sheeting, and ≥4 mitoses/10 HPF. In comparison, published concordance for gliomas in clinical trials have ranged from 8%-74%.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that current meningioma classification and grading are at least as objective and reproducible as for gliomas. Nevertheless, reproducibility remains suboptimal. Further improvements may be anticipated with education and clarification of subjective criteria, although development of biomarkers may be the most promising strategy.

Keywords: concordance; cooperative group trial; meningioma; pathology; tumor grade.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / classification*
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Meningioma / classification*
  • Meningioma / pathology*
  • Meningioma / surgery
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Observer Variation
  • Prognosis