- Neoplasms originating in the thalamus are rare overall (1% of all brain tumors); however, they comprise approximately 5% of pediatric intracranial tumors and approach 15% of all malignant pediatric intracranial tumors in some series.
- To update readers about the current understanding of the diverse histology, biology, and behavior of pediatric thalamic tumors. Histologic verification is now thought to be critical for planning treatment, and, as a result, biopsy and total/subtotal resections are much more common today than in the past.
- A PubMed search using the keywords "pediatric + thalamic + glioma" yielded 45 publications with a total of 445 cases of thalamic gliomas in patients less than 18 years of age. We found only 9 substantial institutional series tabulating all encountered thalamic histologic types in children. This survey confirmed a high proportion of astrocytomas, 81% (214 of 265), of which approximately two-thirds were diffuse astrocytomas (146 of 214) and one-third were pilocytic astrocytomas (68 of 214). Of the diffuse astrocytomas, 34% (49 of 146) were low grade (World Health Organization grade II) and 55% (81 of 146) were high grade (World Health Organization grade III or IV), making the latter subgroup the largest single category of all pediatric thalamic tumors. Oligodendrogliomas and ependymomas (mostly anaplastic in both cases) comprised 10% and 3% of all pediatric thalamic tumors, respectively.
- Tissue diagnosis is now thought crucial for prognostication and treatment, particularly as more potentially therapeutic molecular targets are discovered. Secure diagnosis allows identification of tumors for which resection is more feasible and beneficial.