, Volume 14, Issue 1-2, pp 36-40

Identical characteristics of the patient populations with pineal region tumors in Japan and in Korea and therapeutic modalities

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The therapeutic modalities used for tumors of the pineal region in Western countries differ from those in Japan, mainly because of the different patient populations. An extensive survey was conducted to delineate the racial differences in Japan and in Korea in the epidemiology and recent therapeutic modalities for this tumor group. Among the members of International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery (ISPN), 15 from Japan and 5 from Korea reported their recent findings in 118 (1–25 years of age, mean 7.38-year period) and 125 (1–12 years of age, mean 6.69-year period) histologically verified cases, respectively. The patient populations in the two countries were found to be almost identical, with an extremely high incidence of germ cell tumors representing 71.2% (in Japan) and 80.0% (in Korea) of all pineal region tumors and neuroectodermal tumors representing only 15.2% and 16.8%, respectively. The most common type of pineal region tumor was germinoma (46.6% in Japan and 47.2% in Korea). The majority of tumors were radio- and/or chemosensitive, and adjuvant therapy rather than extensive surgery played the major role in the treatment in both countries. Radical resection of the tumor was recommended as the initial procedure by only 22.2% of neurosurgeons in Japan and 16.6% in Korea. Biopsy was recommended by 38.9% and 50.0%, and radiation therapy by 38.9% and 37.5%, respectively. A minimally invasive procedure, by either a neuroendoscopic (33.3% of biopsies in Japan) or a stereotactic approach (33.3% of biopsies in Korea), was considered to be appropriate as the initial procedure. The study disclosed the almost identical epidemiology of this brain tumor in Japan and in Korea and clarified the consequent therapeutic modalities. The authors emphasize that minimally invasive tissue diagnosis with or without tumor debulking should be considered as the initial step for the treatment planning of the pineal region tumor, followed by the most commonly indicated major procedures, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or radical resection with various methodologies.