Friday, 8 April 2011

Multi-Centre Study on Pediatric Brain Tumours in India

In India, CNS tumours are the third most common childhood cancer behind leukemias and lymphomas. However, CNS tumours are a heterogeneous collection of many pathologies and till recently there has been limited data from India describing their epidemiology. For this reason the recent paper in Neurology India made welcome reading (Jain et al, 2011). In terms of results, the paper does not offer anything spectacularly new. The most common primary pediatric brain tumors were astrocytic tumors (34.7%), followed by medulloblastoma and supratentorial primitive neuro-ectodermal tumors (22.4%), craniopharyngiomas (10.2%) and ependymal tumors (9.8%). The most common astrocytic tumor was pilocytic astrocytoma.

The two main caveats to interpreting this information are - that it is not population-based data and the information is collated from pathology reports. Upto 20% of childhood CNS tumours may be diagnosed on the basis of radiology only and this group of tumours would be missing.

Despite all this, what has been most fascinating for me is the fact that this paper is a joint effort of seven institutions with nearly 4000 childhood CNS tumour patients. Such multi-institutional studies are not frequent in the paediatric haematology-oncology literature from India and the effort of the authors needs to be acknowledged.