Age and body mass index are among the factors that have a significant impact on the clinical course of a particular type of brain tumour, known as pilocytic astrocytoma, in adult patients, according to the findings of a new study.
Pilocytic astrocytoma (PA) has very specific characteristics when it affects adults, found the study conducted by the Medical University of Vienna (MedUni Vienna) in conjunction with researchers from Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences in Krems (KL Krems) and partners from Germany.
“We clearly identified two factors – among others – that influence the clinical course after the operation: age and body mass index, or BMI,” said Prof. Stefan Oberndorfer, head of the Clinical Department of Neurology at St Pölten University Hospital, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences.
Data were evaluated from 46 patients aged between 19 and 74 who had undergone operative resection of the brain tumour. Indeed, the findings show that compared with children, the tumour recurred or continued growing in almost twice as many cases among adult sufferers (19.6% vs. 10%) following the operation. The median follow-up period was 53 months. More detailed analysis of the results revealed a notable increase in the chances of further tumour growth from the age of 40.
Also, a patient’s BMI has a major impact on the clinical progression of the condition following operative removal of the tumour. On average, the patients had a BMI of 22.8 when they were diagnosed. But if the BMI was higher, the tumour recurred or started growing again far more quickly, and the average survival rate was also shorter, Prof. Oberndorfer explained.
Little is known about the connection between a higher BMI and the poorer clinical prognosis this leads to.
However, it is presumed that physiological consequences such as a high blood sugar level, insulin resistance or the increased release of fatty acids into the blood could influence certain factors related to tumour growth. Pilocytic astrocytoma (PA) is the most common brain tumour among children. In many cases, operative removal is an effective form of treatment, and the ten-year overall survival rate among child patients is more than 90%. This kind of brain tumour is much less common in adults, meaning that data on its progression is in short supply.
In future, these new insights could result in more accurate prognosis for adult patients, and enable corresponding optimisation of treatment approaches, the researchers hoped.
The findings were published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology.