Paediatric gliomas: diagnosis, molecular biology and management
Paediatric gliomas represent the most common brain tumour in children. Early diagnosis and treatment greatly improve survival. Histological grade is the most significant classification system affecting treatment planning and prognosis. Paediatric gliomas depend on pathways and genes responsible for mitotic activity and cell proliferation as well as angiogenesis (MAPK, VEGF, EFGR pathways). Symptoms such as focal neurologic deficit or seizures can facilitate diagnosis, but they are not always present and therefore diagnosis is occasionally delayed. Imaging has adequate diagnostic accuracy (surpassing 90%), and novel imaging techniques such as MR spectroscopy and PET increase only slightly this percentage. Low grade gliomas (LGG) can be approached conservatively but most authors suggest surgical excision. High grade gliomas (HGG) are always operated with exception of specific contradictions including butterfly or extensive dominant hemisphere gliomas. Surgical excision is universally followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which slightly increase survival. Inoperable cases can be managed with or without radiosurgery depending on location and size, with adjunctive use of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Surgical excision must be aggressive and gross total resection (GTR) should be attempted, if possible, since it can triple survival. Radiosurgery is effective on smaller tumours of <2 cm2. Surgical excision is always the treatment of choice, but glioma recurrences, and residual tumours in non-critical locations are candidates for radiosurgery especially if tumour volume is low. Management of recurrences includes surgery, radiosurgery and chemoradiotherapy and it should be individualized according to location and size. In combination with molecular targeted therapeutic schemes, glioma management will be immensely improved in the next years.