Eighty-two children with malignant brain tumours were treated according to the "8 in 1" chemotherapy protocol in Finland during 1986 to 1993. Thirty-seven with brain tumours not involving the hypothalamic-pituitary region are still alive and tumour-free. The growth and response to growth hormone (GH) therapy in these children was analysed. Children who received craniospinal irradiation had the most severe loss of height SDS, being -1.07 within 3 years of the diagnosis. Even children with no irradiation to the hypothalamic-pituitary axis had a mean change in height SDS of -0.5 after 3 years. Fifteen of 23 children who received craniospinal irradiation and two out of eight children who received cranial irradiation have received GH therapy. A catch-up growth response to the daily GH therapy with the mean dose of 0.7 IU/kg per week was complete in 3 years (+1.87 SDS), irrespective of craniospinal irradiation, in children who were treated at prepubertal age but was seen in none of the children who had reached pubertal age.
Conclusion: Growth impairment and GH deficiency are common in children treated for malignant brain tumours. The response to GH therapy is good in prepubertal children in terms of increased growth velocity, although the final height is not yet known.