Biologically malignant pilocytic astrocytomas are rare. Precise morphologic criteria permitting their identification and clinically meaningful distinction from more ordinary pilocytic astrocytomas have not been developed. The histologic grading schemes applied to fibrillary astrocytomas—ones based on nuclear atypia, increased cellularity, mitotic activity, endothelial proliferation, and necrosis—are thought not to correlate with prognosis in pilocytic astrocytomas. Nonetheless, these features were systematically sought in 107 cerebellar pilocytic astrocytomas, four of which were histologically malignant. The clinical, morphologic, and flow cytometric features of these cases were studied. The incidence of histologic malignancy occurring spontaneously in otherwise typical pilocytic astrocytomas was 0.9%; that occurring after radiation was 1.8%. The four histologically malignant tumors occurred in two males and two females, ages 6 to 18 years. All showed increased mitotic activity (three to five mitoses per high-power microscopic field [250×]). Endothelial proliferation and necrosis were present in three and two cases each. DNA ploidy analysis showed the spontaneously occurring malignant-appearing tumors to be aneuploid, whereas both previously radiated tumors were tetraploid; 5% to 11% of cells were in S phase. The appearance of histologic malignancy in pilocytic astrocytoma is rare and less reliably correlated with prognosis than in patients with fibrillary astrocytomas. Essential features of such tumors include a high mitotic index and perhaps a high percentage of cells in S phase. (J Child Neurol 1994;9:301-310).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Clinical Neurology