• Vol. 36 No. 5, 314–318
  • 15 May 2007

Epidemiology, Management and Treatment Outcome of Medulloblastoma in Singapore

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: Medulloblastoma/primitive neuroectodermal tumour is the most common type of malignant brain tumour in children. Long-term survival rates have improved over the years with a combination of surgical, radiotherapeutic and chemotherapeutic treatment modalities in the developed world. This paper aims to analyse the epidemiology and outcome of medulloblastoma in Singapore and compare our results with those reported in the literature. Materials and Methods: A 9-year retrospective study was done using data reported to the Singapore Children’s Cancer Registry from June 1997 to June 2005. Only 39 children up to the age of 15 years diagnosed histologically with medulloblastoma or primitive neuroectodermal tumour arising from the cerebellum were included in the study. Follow-up data were collected up to June 2006 and analysed using SPSS v 13.0 software. Results: Medulloblastoma/primitive neuroectodermal tumour was the most common type of brain tumour, accounting for 40.7% of all brain tumours diagnosed in children in Singapore. The 5-year event-free survival rate was 44.5%, while the 5- year overall survival rate was 51.5%. Nearly half (41%) of our patients had spinal metastasis at presentation and this was associated with a worse event-free survival (6.3% vs 71.9%, P = 0). Children under 36 months of age had a significantly poorer overall survival (28.8% vs 52.2%, P = 0.041). Conclusions: The outcome of medulloblastoma in Singapore was inferior to reported figures in the literature. We need to close identified gaps in care, like standardising assessment and treatment protocols, in order to improve our results. Research into molecular and genetic characteristics may also throw light on whether the disease is inherently more aggressive in our population.


Medulloblastoma (MBL) is the most common type of malignant brain tumour in childhood. It belongs to the group of tumours known as primitive neuroectodermal tumour (PNET), which is a highly malignant, small round blue cell tumour of the central nervous system. The term “medulloblastoma” is classically reserved for PNETs arising in the cerebellum. It was historically named after the supposed progenitor cell for glia and neurons, called the “medulloblast”.1 Although MBL belongs to the same histopathologic group as PNET arising in the supratentorial region, some investigators believe they arise from different cells of origin,2 which may account for their differences in clinical behaviour and prognosis.3

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