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Cerebrospinal Fluid Dissemination and Neoplastic Meningitis in Primary Brain Tumors.

  • Chowdhary, Sajeel1
  • Damlo, Sherri2
  • Chamberlain, Marc C3
  • 1 Marcus Neuroscience Institute, Boca Raton, Florida, USA. [email protected]
  • 2 Damlo Does, LLC, Seattle, Washington, USA.
  • 3 Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Cascadian Therapeutics, Seattle, Washington, USA. [email protected]
Published Article
Cancer control : journal of the Moffitt Cancer Center
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2017
PMID: 28557973


Neoplastic meningitis, also known as leptomeningeal disease, affects the entire neuraxis. The clinical manifestations of the disease may affect the cranial nerves, cerebral hemispheres, or the spine. Because of the extent of disease involvement, treatment options and disease staging should involve all compartments of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and subarachnoid space. Few studies of patients with primary brain tumors have specifically addressed treatment for the secondary complication of neoplastic meningitis. Therapy for neoplastic meningitis is palliative in nature and, rarely, may have a curative intent. A review of the medical literature pertinent to neoplastic meningitis in primary brain tumors was performed. The complication of neoplastic meningitis is described in detail for the various types of primary brain tumors. Treatment of neoplastic meningitis is complicated because determining who should receive aggressive, central nervous system (CNS)-directed therapy is difficult. In general, the therapeutic response of neoplastic meningitis is a function of CSF cytology and, secondarily, of the clinical improvement in neurological manifestations related to the disease. CSF cytology may manifest a rostrocaudal disassociation; thus, consecutive, negative findings require that both lumbar and ventricular cytological testing are performed to confirm the complete response. Based on data from several prospective, randomized trials extrapolated to primary brain tumors, the median rate of survival for neoplastic meningitis is several months. Oftentimes, therapy directed at palliation may improve quality of life by protecting patients from experiencing continued neurological deterioration. Neoplastic meningitis is a complicated disease in which response to therapy varies by histology. Thus, survival rates after CNS-directed therapy will differ by the underlying primary tumor. Optimal therapy of neoplastic meningitis is poorly defined, and few guidelines exist to guide clinicians on the most appropriate choice of therapy.

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