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Irregular Tumors Predict Poor Outcomes in Brain Cancer

Patients with glioblastoma multiforme fare worse when their tumors have irregular surfaces.

Janelle Weaver, Contributor
Thursday, April 19, 2018


Glioblastoma multiforme is a fast-growing type of malignant brain tumor and the most common brain tumor in adults. Patients have a poor prognosis and usually survive less than 15 months following diagnosis. A study published April 3 in the journal Radiology shows that the surface properties of tumors can be used to predict survival and surgical outcomes in patients with glioblastoma multiforme.

The researchers assessed tumor surface regularity -- how much the tumor surface deviates from a sphere of the same volume -- by evaluating MRI data from a discovery cohort of 165 patients and a separate validation cohort of 51 patients, all diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. Tumor surface regularity was a powerful predictor of survival in both groups of patients. In the discovery cohort, the 89 patients with high surface regularity survived on average five months longer than the 76 patients with irregular tumors.

Moreover, when the researchers analyzed survival in a subgroup of 76 patients who underwent complete resection, they found that patients with surface-irregular tumors did not benefit from total resection versus incomplete resection, but those with regular-surface tumors did.

According to the authors, surface properties contain information on the processes underlying tumor growth, but they have been largely neglected as imaging biomarkers. The findings suggest that surface-derived imaging biomarkers obtained from MRI may help in classifying patients for surgery.