The long-term follow-up of the RTOG 9802 trial that compared 54 Gy of radiotherapy (RT) with the same RT followed by adjuvant procarbazine, CCNU, and vincristine (PCV) chemotherapy in high-risk low-grade glioma shows a major increase in survival after adjuvant PCV chemotherapy. Median overall survival increased from 7.8 years to 13.3 years, with a hazard ratio of death of 0.59 (log rank: P =.002). This increase in survival was observed despite the fact that 77% of patients who progressed after RT alone received salvage chemotherapy. With this outcome, RT + PCV is now to be considered standard of care for low-grade glioma requiring postsurgical adjuvant treatment. Unfortunately, studies on molecular correlates associated with response are still lacking. This is now the third trial showing benefit from the addition of PCV to RT in grade II or III diffuse glioma. The optimal parameter for selecting patients for adjuvant PCV has not yet been fully elucidated, but several candidate markers have so far emerged. It is still unclear whether temozolomide can replace PCV and whether initial management with chemotherapy only is a safe initial treatment. Potentially, that may adversely affect overall survival, but concerns for delayed RT-induced neurotoxicity may limit acceptance of early RT in patients with expected long term survival. The current evidence supports that in future trials, grades II and III tumors with similar molecular backgrounds should be combined, and trials should focus on molecular glial subtype regardless of grade.

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Department of Neurology

van den Bent, M. (2014). Practice changing mature results of RTOG study 9802: Another positive PCV trial makes adjuvant chemotherapy part of standard of care in low-grade glioma. Neuro-Oncology, 16(12), 1570–1574. doi:10.1093/neuonc/nou297