Spinal cord astrocytoma: pathological and treatment considerations

J Neurosurg. 1995 Oct;83(4):590-5. doi: 10.3171/jns.1995.83.4.0590.


Seventy-nine patients underwent surgery, with or without radiation therapy, for astrocytoma of the spinal cord. There were 43 tumors (54%) classified as pilocytic astrocytoma and 25 (32%) as diffuse fibrillary astrocytoma. Eleven tumors (14%) could not be classified other than as astrocytoma, "type not otherwise specified." The 10-year overall survival rate for all 79 patients was 50% but significantly differed by histological type: 81% for patients with pilocytic astrocytoma compared to 15% for those with diffuse fibrillary astrocytoma. Tumor grade by the Kernohan, et al., or St. Anne-Mayo methods was also a significant predictor of survival in patients with diffuse fibrillary astrocytoma. The extent of surgical resection (biopsy vs. subtotal resection vs. gross total resection) did not significantly impact survival among patients with pilocytic or nonpilocytic astrocytomas of the spinal cord, although there was a trend toward poorer survival in patients undergoing some degree of resection as opposed to biopsy. Postoperative radiation therapy improved survival but did so more for diffuse fibrillary astrocytoma than pilocytic astrocytoma. In this series, histological type was the most significant predictor of survival in patients with astrocytoma of the spinal cord. The survival rate was highest in patients who underwent biopsy followed by postoperative radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Astrocytoma / classification
  • Astrocytoma / pathology*
  • Astrocytoma / radiotherapy
  • Astrocytoma / surgery*
  • Biopsy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Care
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / classification
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome