Wide Range of Clinical Outcomes in Patients with Gliomatosis Cerebri Growth Pattern: A Clinical, Radiographic, and Histopathologic Study

K. Ina Ly, Derek H. Oakley, Alexander B. Pine, Matthew P. Frosch, Sy Han Chiou, Rebecca A. Betensky, Stuart R. Pomerantz, Fred H. Hochberg, Tracy T. Batchelor, Daniel P. Cahill, Jorg Dietrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The 2016 World Health Organization Classification of Central Nervous System Tumors categorizes gliomatosis cerebri growth pattern (GC) as a subgroup of diffuse infiltrating gliomas, defined by extent of brain involvement on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Clinical and radiographic features in GC patients are highly heterogeneous; however, prognosis has historically been considered poor. Subjects, Materials, and Methods: We performed a retrospective search for patients at our institution meeting radiographic criteria of primary, type I GC (defined as diffuse tumor infiltration without associated tumor mass and contrast enhancement on MRI) and analyzed their clinical, imaging, and histopathologic features. Results: A total of 34 patients met radiographic criteria of primary, type I GC, and 33 had a confirmed histologic diagnosis of an infiltrating glial neoplasm. Age >47 years at diagnosis was associated with worse overall survival (OS) compared with age ≤47 years (hazard ratio [HR] 1.04, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01–1.07, p =.003). Patients with grade 2 tumors demonstrated a trend for improved OS compared with those with grade 3 tumors (HR 2.65, 95% CI 0.99–7.08, p =.051). Except for brainstem involvement, extent or location of radiographic involvement did not detectably affect clinical outcome. IDH mutation status identified a subgroup of GC patients with particularly long survival up to 25 years and was associated with longer time to progression (HR 4.81, 95% CI 0.99–23.47, p =.052). Conclusion: Patients with primary, type I GC do not uniformly carry a poor prognosis, even in the presence of widespread radiographic involvement. Consistent with other reports, IDH mutation status may identify patients with improved clinical outcome. Molecular characterization, rather than MRI features, may be most valuable for prognostication and management of GC patients. Implications for Practice: Patients with gliomatosis cerebri growth pattern (GC) constitute a challenge to clinicians, given their wide range of clinical, histologic, and radiographic presentation, heterogeneous outcome patterns, and the lack of consensus on a standardized treatment approach. This study highlights that radiographic extent of disease—albeit category-defining—does not detectably influence survival and that IDH mutations may impact clinical outcome. Practicing oncologists should be aware that select GC patients may demonstrate exceptionally favorable survival times and prognosticate patients based on molecular markers, rather than imaging features alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-413
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Diffuse infiltrating gliomas
  • Gliomatosis cerebri
  • Isocitrate dehydrogenase
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Molecular markers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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