Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 125, Issue 3, pp 551–583 | Cite as

The role of radiotherapy in the management of patients with diffuse low grade glioma

A systematic review and evidence-based clinical practice guideline
  • Timothy C. Ryken
  • Ian Parney
  • John Buatti
  • Steven N. Kalkanis
  • Jeffrey J. Olson
Topic Review & Clinical Guidelines



  1. 1.

    What is the optimal role of external beam radiotherapy in the management of adult patients with newly diagnosed low-grade glioma (LGG) in terms of improving outcome (i.e. survival, complications, seizure control or other reported outcomes of interest)?

  2. 2.

    Which radiation strategies (dose, timing, fractionation, stereotactic radiation, brachytherapy, chemotherapy) improve outcomes compared to standard external beam radiation therapy in the initial management of low grade gliomas in adults?

  3. 3.

    Do specific factors (e.g. age, volume, extent of resection, genetic subtype) identify subgroups with better outcomes following radiation therapy than the general population of adults with newly diagnosed low-grade gliomas?


Target population

These recommendations apply to adults with newly diagnosed diffuse LGG.


Outcomes in adult patients with newly diagnosed low grade glioma treated with radiotherapy

Level I Radiotherapy is recommended in the management of newly diagnosed low-grade glioma in adults to prolong progression free survival, irrespective of extent of resection.

Level II Radiotherapy is recommended in the management of newly diagnosed low grade glioma in adults as an equivalent alternative to observation in preserving cognitive function, irrespective of extent of resection.

Level III Radiotherapy is recommended in the management of newly diagnosed low grade glioma in adults to improve seizure control in patients with epilepsy and subtotal resection.

Level III Radiotherapy is recommended in the management of newly diagnosed low-grade glioma in adults to prolong overall survival in patients with subtotal resection.

Level III Consideration of the risk of radiation induced morbidity, including cognitive decline, imaging abnormalities, metabolic dysfunction and malignant transformation, is recommended when the delivery of radiotherapy is selected in the management of newly diagnosed low-grade glioma in adults.

Strategies of radiotherapy in adult patients with newly diagnosed low grade glioma

Level I Lower dose radiotherapy is recommended as an equivalent alternative to higher dose immediate postoperative radiotherapy (45–50.4 vs. 59.4–64.8 Gy) in the management of newly diagnosed low-grade glioma in adults with reduced toxicity.

Level III Delaying radiotherapy until recurrence or progression is recommended as an equivalent alternative to immediate postoperative radiotherapy in the management of newly diagnosed low-grade glioma in adults but may result in shorter time to progression.

Level III The addition of chemotherapy to radiotherapy is not recommended over whole brain radiotherapy alone in the management of low-grade glioma, as it provides no additional survival benefit.

Level III Limited-field radiotherapy is recommended over whole brain radiotherapy in the management of low-grade glioma.

Level III Either stereotactic radiosurgery or brachytherapy are recommended as acceptable alternatives to external radiotherapy in selected patients.

Prognostic factors in adult patients with newly diagnosed low grade glioma treated with radiotherapy

Level II It is recommended that age greater than 40 years, astrocytic pathology, diameter greater than 6 cm, tumor crossing the midline and preoperative neurological deficit be considered as negative prognostic indicators when predicting overall survival in adult low grade glioma patients treated with radiotherapy.

Level II It is recommended that smaller tumor size, extent of surgical resection and higher mini-mental status exam be considered as positive prognostic indicators when predicting overall survival and progression free survival in patients in adult low grade glioma patients treated with radiotherapy.

Level III It is recommended that seizures at presentation, presence of oligodendroglial histological component and 1p19q deletion (along with additional relevant factors—see Table 1) be considered as positive prognostic indicators when predicting response to radiotherapy in adults with low grade gliomas.

Level III It is recommended that increasing age, decreasing performance status, decreasing cognition, presence of astrocytic histological component (along with additional relevant factors (see Tables 1, 2) be considered as negative prognostic indicators when predicting response to radiotherapy.


Low grade glioma Astrocytoma Oligodendroglioma Radiation Radiation sensitizer Systematic review Practice guideline 



We acknowledge the significant contributions of Laura Mitchell, Senior Manager of Clinical Practice Guidelines for the CNS, the AANS/CNS Joint Guidelines Committee (JGC) for their review, comments and suggestions, and Anne Woznica and Mary Bodach for their assistance with the literature searches. We also acknowledge the following individual JGC members for their contributions throughout the review process: Kevin Cockroft, MD, Sepideh Amin-Hanjani, MD, Kimon Bekelis, MD, Isabelle Germano, MD, Daniel Hoh, MD, Steven Hwang, MD, Cheerag Dipakkumar Upadhyaya, MD, Christopher Winfree, MD, and Brad Zacharia, MD.


Dr. Parney is a consultant for Agenus, Inc. Dr. Kalkanis is a consultant for Arbor and Varian. Dr. Olson is a consultant for the American Cancer Society; has received research funding from the National Cancer Institute, Genentech, and Millennium; and has received investigational drug provision from Merck.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy C. Ryken
    • 1
  • Ian Parney
    • 2
  • John Buatti
    • 3
  • Steven N. Kalkanis
    • 4
  • Jeffrey J. Olson
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryKansas University Medical CenterKansas CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurosurgeryMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologyUniversity of Iowa Hospitals & ClinicsIowa CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of NeurosurgeryHenry Ford Health SystemDetroitUSA
  5. 5.Department of NeurosurgeryEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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