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Chemotherapy trials in recurrent primary intracranial germ cell tumors


Gonadal germ cell tumors respond favorably to chemotherapy either at diagnosis or when they recur. Histologically similar tumors may arise in the CNS usually in the pineal or suprasellar regions. Although radiation therapy may produce a 5 year disease-free survival in excess of 60% in localized pure germinoma, gern cell tumors of other histology tend to recur. We have conducted 14 chemotherapy trials in 8 patients with recurrent CNS germ cell tumors using 3 different single agent and 2 multi-agent chemotherapy regimens. The histologic diagnoses of the patients were germinoma (4), endodermal sinus tumor (2), embryonal carcinoma (1), and mixed tumor — germinoma plus choriocarcinoma (1). There were 7 males and 1 female with a median age of 13 years. The primary tumor arose in the pineal region in 6 and was multicentric in 2. Seven patients had local recurrences and one developed an initial recurrence in the spinal canal. Three patients had CNS metastases at relapse and 2 had systemic metastases. Objective responses were documented in 7 of 14 trials (50%). Responses were observed with cyclophosphamide (80 mg/kg) in 3 of 4 patients for 2+, 3, and 5 mos, cisplatin (120 mg/m2) in 1 of 2 patients for 2+ mos, and the VAB 6 protocol (vinblastine, bleomycin, cyclophosphamide, actinomycin-d, cisplatin) in 3 of 5 patients for 5, 8, and 18 mos. The median duration of response was 5 mos. (21-18). High doses of single chemotherapy agents such as cyclophosphamide and cisplatin as well the VAB6 regimen have definite activity in recurrent CNS germ cell tumors, especially germinoma. Good palliation may be achieved with chemotherapy alone with acceptable morbidity. Adjuvant chemotherapy should be considered in patients with newly diagnosed primary intracranial germ cell tumors whose tumors are considered unlikely to be permanently controlled with radiation alone.

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Correspondence to Jeffrey C. Allen M.D..

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Allen, J.C., Bosl, G. & Walker, R. Chemotherapy trials in recurrent primary intracranial germ cell tumors. J Neuro-Oncol 3, 147–152 (1985).

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Key words

  • germ cell tumor
  • germinoma
  • chemotherapy