Treatment of diencephalic syndrome with chemotherapy: Growth, tumor response, and long term control

Andrea L. Gropman, Roger J. Packer, H. Stacy Nicholson, L. Gilbert Vezina, Regina Jakacki, Russell Geyer, James M. Olson, Peter Phillips, Michael Needle, Emmett H. Broxson, Gregory Reaman, Jonathan Finlay

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69 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. The diencephalic syndrome (DS), which is manifested by progressive emaciation and failure to thrive in an apparently alert, cheerful infant, usually is due to a low grade hypothalamic glioma. Treatment with aggressive surgery and/or radiotherapy is variably successful in controlling disease and may result in severe neurologic sequelae. Chemotherapy recently has been shown to be effective in patients with low grade gliomas of childhood, but it is used infrequently in those with DS. METHODS. The authors evaluated the efficacy of a regimen of carboplatin and vincristine on improving weight, causing tumor shrinkage, and delaying the need for alternative therapies in seven children (ages 9-20 months; median age, 11 months) with DS. Five patients weighed less than the 5th percentile for their age at the start of the study, one weighed within the 10th percentile, and one weighed within the 25th percentile. RESULTS. At follow-up (range, 6-54 months; median, 28 months), the patients' weights had increased by 66-95% (median, 80%). On magnetic resonance imaging, four patients had a >50% reduction in tumor mass, one had a 25-50% reduction, and two had stable disease. In those patients with radiographic response to treatment, weight gain was accomplished with oral feedings in four of five patients, whereas those with stable disease required nasogastric, nasojejunal, or gastrostomy tube supplementation to maintain weight. Disease progression occurred at a median of 24 months after initiation of chemotherapy, and two patients remained free of progressive disease at last follow-up. Five patients were alive a median of 59 months from diagnosis. The need for radiation or other therapies was delayed in six of seven children. Therapy was tolerated without significant toxicities. CONCLUSION. The authors conclude that treatment of DS with a carboplatin and vincristine regimen results in demonstrable weight gain, may result in tumor shrinkage, and in some cases, significantly delays the need for alternative therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-172
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 1998


  • Brain tumor
  • Chemotherapy
  • Diencephalic syndrome
  • Glioma
  • Hypothalamic glioma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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