Purpose: Controversy regarding the role of adjuvant radiation therapy for the treatment of oligodendroglioma continues to exist. To better define the utility of postoperative irradiation for this tumor, the experience at the University of Washington was retrospectively examined.
Methods and materials: The histologic samples of 63 patients given the diagnosis of oligodendroglioma were reviewed by a panel of neuropathologists and 41 were classified as pure oligodendroglioma. The two treatment groups included 14 patients treated with surgery only and 27 who received surgery and postoperative radiation and were analyzed using univariate and multivariate analysis with respect to prognostic factors, freedom from relapse, and survival.
Results: Univariate statistical analysis of 14 clinical variables showed that a poorer prognosis was associated in patients with high cell density (p = .008), necrosis (p = .017), hemiparesis (p = .026), and papilledema (p = .091), while patients presenting with seizures had a better prognosis (p = .0096). Multivariate analysis showed necrosis (p = .001) and hemiparesis (p = .02) to be associated with decreased survival. Multivariate and univariate analysis of the treatment groups found them to be homogenous with respect to prognostic factors. Survival times were significantly longer in the group treated with postoperative irradiation (median survival time 84 vs. 47 months, p = .032). The 5 and 10 year survival rates were 83% and 46%, respectively, for the irradiated patients compared with 51% and 36% for those treated with surgery alone. Freedom from tumor recurrence times were also longer in irradiated patients (median relapse free time 79 vs. 42 months, p = .01).
Conclusion: Based on the results of this study, we recommend continuing the practice of treating oligodendroglioma with postresection irradiation until a prospective multicenter clinical trial is conducted to thoroughly evaluate the role of postoperative irradiation in the treatment of this tumor.