Challenges in the Management of Childhood Intracranial Germ Cell Tumors in Middle-Income Countries: A 20-Year Retrospective Review From a Single Tertiary Center in Malaysia

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2021 Oct 1;43(7):e913-e923. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0000000000002116.


Background: A higher incidence of pediatric intracranial germ cell tumors (iGCTs) in Asian countries compared with Western countries has been reported. In Malaysia, the literature regarding pediatric iGCTs have been nonexistent. The aim of this study was to review the management, survival, and long-term outcomes of pediatric iGCTs at a single tertiary center in Malaysia.

Patients and methods: We retrospectively reviewed data from patients below 18 years of age with iGCTs treated at the University Malaya Medical Center (UMMC) from 1998 to 2017.

Results: Thirty-four patients were identified, with a median follow-up of 3.54 years. Sixteen (47%) patients had pure germinoma tumors (PGs), and the remaining patients had nongerminomatous germ cell tumors (NGGCTs). The median age was 12 years, with a male:female ratio of 4.7:1. Abnormal vision, headache with vomiting, and diabetes insipidus were the commonest presenting symptoms. Twenty-eight patients received initial surgical interventions, 24 were treated with chemotherapy, and 28 received radiotherapy. Eight patients experienced relapses. The 5- and 10-year event-free survival rates were similar at 61.1%±12.6% and 42.9%±12.1% for PG and NGGCT, respectively. The 5- and 10-year overall survival rates were the same at 75.5%±10.8% and 53.3%±12.3% for PG and NGGCT, respectively. Four patients died of treatment-related toxicity. Most of the survivors experienced good quality of life with satisfactory neurologic status.

Conclusions: The survival rate of childhood iGCTs in UMMC was inferior to that reported in developed countries. Late diagnosis, poor adherence to treatment, and treatment-related complications were the contributing factors. Although these results highlight a single institution experience, they most likely reflect similar treatment patterns, outcomes, and challenges in other centers in Malaysia.

Trial registration: NCT00293358 NCT01424839.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Developing Countries*
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Malaysia / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors

Associated data