Spinal cord malignant astrocytomas: Clinicopathologic features in 36 cases

Mariarita Santi, Hernando Mena, Kondi Wong, Kelly Koeller, Cara Olsen, Elisabeth J. Rushing*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Malignant astrocytomas of the spinal cord are uncommon neoplasms with a dismal prognosis. To the authors' knowledge, little information has been published to date regarding the prognostic impact of clinicopathologic factors. METHODS. The authors studied 36 cases to investigate the prognostic effect of the World Health Organization (WHO) tumor grade, tumor localization, cell proliferative activity, p53 expression, and therapy. RESULTS. Sixteen patients (44%) underwent biopsy alone, 11 (31%) underwent subtotal resection, and 7 (19%) underwent macroscopic total excision. For two patients, there were no data available regarding surgical treatment. Among the 36 patients (mean age, 32.4 years), there were 23 males (63%) and 13 (36%) females. Their initial biopsies showed 21 (63%) glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cases (WHO Grade 4), 13 (36%) anaplastic astrocytomas (AA) (WHO Grade 3), and 2 (6%) astrocytomas (A) (WHO Grade 2). After initial surgery, 10 (29%) patients were treated with radiation therapy alone and 7 (19%) received radiation therapy with chemotherapy. Patterns of disease recurrence included extraneural metastases (two cases), brain metastases (five cases), local extension (one case), and diffuse spread along the neuraxis (six cases). Two A (100%) and six AA (46%) cases progressed to GBM. The overall median survival time was 33 months (range, 24-42 months) for A, 10 months (range, 1-84 months) for AA, and 10 months (range, 1-43 months) for GBM. CONCLUSIONS. Patients older than 40 years have a shorter survival period compared with younger patients. There is a high risk of central nervous system dissemination in patients with this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-561
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytoma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • Prognostic features
  • Spinal cord


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