Rapid Recurrence and Anaplastic Transformation of a Pilocytic Astrocytoma in an Elderly Patient: Case Report and Review of the Literature

World Neurosurg. 2020 Oct:142:441-449. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2020.06.173. Epub 2020 Jul 4.


Background: Rapid recurrence of a pilocytic astrocytoma with anaplastic transformation is extremely rare. The case of an elderly patient with a cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma with anaplastic transformation during short-term follow-up is reported.

Case description: An 83-year-old woman presented initially with dizziness and a gait deviation to the right. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a homogeneously enhanced mass in the right cerebellar hemisphere, and the tumor was subtotally removed by right suboccipital craniotomy. Histologic examination showed that the tumor cells contained eosinophilic cytoplasm and spindle-shaped processes with Rosenthal fibers and eosinophilic granular bodies, diagnosed as a typical pilocytic astrocytoma (PA). The MIB-1 index was <1%. The patient did not receive postoperative adjuvant radiation and chemotherapy. Two months after surgery, magnetic resonance imaging showed growth of the residual tumor adjacent to the fourth ventricle, causing obstructive hydrocephalus. She underwent surgery again, and the tumor was totally removed. Histologic findings showed mitotic cells and increased cellularity compared with the primary tumor, which was compatible with anaplastic transformation of PA with a MIB-1 index of 50%. Postoperatively, she was observed with best supportive care without postoperative adjuvant therapy. Nine months after the second operation, she died due to tonsillar herniation and obstructive hydrocephalus caused by a recurrent tumor. An autopsy was performed.

Conclusions: It is extremely rare, as in the present case, that a cerebellar PA in an elderly patient recurs rapidly with anaplastic transformation, despite deferred postoperative adjuvant therapy including radiation and chemotherapy. A novel molecular-targeted therapy is needed for anaplastic PA showing aggressive biological behavior.

Keywords: Anaplastic transformation; Elderly patient; Pilocytic astrocytoma; Postoperative radiation; Rapid recurrence.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Astrocytoma / pathology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology*