Pontine gliomas a 10-year population-based study: a report from The Canadian Paediatric Brain Tumour Consortium (CPBTC)
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BACKGROUND: Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) are midline gliomas that arise from the pons and the majority are lethal within a few months after diagnosis. Due to the lack of histological diagnosis the epidemiology of DIPG is not completely understood. The aim of this report is to provide population-based data to characterize the descriptive epidemiology of this condition in Canadian children. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A national retrospective study of children and adolescents diagnosed with DIPG between 2000 and 2010 was undertaken. All cases underwent central review to determine clinical and radiological diagnostic characteristics. Crude incidence figures were calculated using age-adjusted (0-17 year) population data from Statistics Canada. Survival analyses were performed using the Kaplan-Meier method. RESULTS: A total of 163 patients with pontine lesions were identified. Central review determined one-hundred and forty-three patients who met clinical, radiological and/or histological criteria for diagnosis. We estimate an incidence rate of 1.9 DIPG/1,000,000 children/year in the Canadian population over a 10 years period. Median age at diagnosis was 6.8 years and 50.3% of patients were female. Most patients presented with cranial nerve palsies (76%) and ataxia (66%). Despite typical clinical and radiological characteristics, histological confirmation reported three lesions to be low-grade gliomas and three were diagnosed as CNS embryonal tumor not otherwise specified (NOS). CONCLUSIONS: Our study highlights the challenges associated with epidemiology studies on DIPG and the importance of central review for incidence rate estimations. It emphasizes that tissue biopsies are required for accurate histological and molecular diagnosis in patients presenting with pontine lesions and reinforces the limitations of radiological and clinical diagnosis in DIPG. Likewise, it underscores the urgent need to increase the availability and accessibility to clinical trials.
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