Malignant gliomas (brain tumors, grade III or IV) are the most common primary brain tumor, and their incidence is increasing over time, according to background information in the article. These tumors are the second-most common cause of cancer-related death in the young-adult age group and are associated with extensive illness. Despite intensive research, the prognosis for patients with malignant glioma remains poor. Typical survival for patients with grade III glioma is 3 to 5 years and is less than 1 year for patients with glioblastoma multiforme (grade IV glioma). Current treatment for patients with malignant glioma includes maximum safe resection (surgical removal), radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Susan M. Chang, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a study to provide data to enable comparison of individual practice patterns and outcomes for adults with malignant glioma. The Glioma Outcomes (GO) Project enrolled 788 patients at 52 clinical sites, both academic and community practices, between December 1997 and July 2000. The enrollment criteria included adult patients with primary grade III or IV glioma undergoing a first or second operation for diagnosis or treatment. The data collection instruments included questionnaire forms given at enrollment, during the perioperative period, and at follow-up intervals of 3 months until death or a maximum of 24 months. Of the patients recorded in the GO database, 565 patients with newly diagnosed tumors were used for this analysis.
The researchers found that most patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging (n = 518; 92 percent) and an attempt at tumor resection (n = 425; 75 percent). Most received perioperative corticosteroids (n = 535; 99 perce
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