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Pediatric Astrocytoma Medication

  • Author: Tobey J MacDonald, MD; Chief Editor: Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
Updated: Nov 25, 2014

Medication Summary

Current investigational dosing chemotherapy regimens for the treatment of low-grade astrocytomas with carboplatin and vincristine and for the treatment of high-grade astrocytomas with temozolomide,[8] carmustine (BCNU), and cisplatin are provided below.


Antineoplastic agents

Class Summary

These agents disrupt DNA replication, which inhibits tumor growth and promotes tumor cell death. Cancer chemotherapy is based on an understanding of tumor cell growth and how drugs affect this growth. After cells divide, they enter a period of growth (phase G1), followed by DNA synthesis (phase S). The next phase is a premitotic phase (G2), then finally a mitotic cell division (phase M).

The cell division rate varies for different tumors. Most common cancers increase very slowly in size compared to normal tissues, and the rate may decrease further in large tumors. This difference allows normal cells to recover from chemotherapy more quickly than malignant ones and is the rationale behind current cyclic dosage schedules.

Antineoplastic agents interfere with cell reproduction. Some agents are cell cycle specific, while others (eg, alkylating agents, anthracyclines, cisplatin) are not phase-specific. Cellular apoptosis (ie, programmed cell death) is also a potential mechanism of many antineoplastic agents.

Temozolomide (Temodar)


Prodrug that is hydrolyzed to MTIC at physiologic pH. Exerts its effect by site-specific DNA cross-linking resulting from the methylation guanine at the O6 and N7 positions. Bioavailability is 100%; approximately 35% crosses the blood-brain barrier.

Carboplatin (Paraplatin)


Analog of cisplatin. This is a heavy metal coordination complex that exerts its cytotoxic effect by platination of DNA, a mechanism analogous to alkylation, leading to interstrand and intrastrand DNA crosslinks and inhibition of DNA replication.

Vincristine (Oncovin)


Plant-derived vinca alkaloid. Acts as a mitotic inhibitor by binding tubulin.

Carmustine (BiCNU)


This DNA alkylator causes interstrand and intrastrand DNA crosslinks, resulting in damage to the DNA template and inhibition of DNA replication.

Cisplatin (Platinol)


This heavy metal coordination complex exerts its cytotoxic effect by platination of DNA, a mechanism analogous to alkylation, leading to interstrand and intrastrand DNA crosslinks and inhibition of DNA replication.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Tobey J MacDonald, MD Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine; Director, Pediatric Brain Tumor Program, Aflac Chair for Neuro-Oncology, Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Tobey J MacDonald, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for Cancer Research, Society for Neuro-Oncology, International Society of Paediatric Oncology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Roger J Packer, MD Senior Vice President, Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine, Director, Brain Tumor Institute, Children’s National Medical CenterProfessor of Neurology and Pediatrics, The George Washington University

Roger J Packer, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Neurological Association, American Pediatric Society, Child Neurology Society, Children's Oncology Group, Society for Neuro-Oncology, Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, Neurofibromatosis Clinical Trials Consortium

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Timothy P Cripe, MD, PhD, FAAP Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology/BMT, Gordon Teter Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cancer, Nationwide Children's Hospital; Professor of Pediatrics, Ohio State University College of Medicine

Timothy P Cripe, MD, PhD, FAAP is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association for Cancer Research, American Pediatric Society, American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Connective Tissue Oncology Society, Society for Pediatric Research, Children's Oncology Group

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA Executive Vice President, Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Renown Heath

Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Healthcare Executives, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Samuel Gross, MD Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, University of Florida College of Medicine; Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine; Adjunct Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Duke University School of Medicine

Samuel Gross, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for Cancer Research, American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, and Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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This MRI shows a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma of the cerebellum.
This MRI shows a supratentorial glioblastoma multiforme.
This section displays the typical biphasic pattern of a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, consisting of dense, relatively anuclear, fibrillar areas alternating with looser cystic fields.
This section displays the high cellularity, mitosis, and nuclear atypia characteristic of an anaplastic astrocytoma (grade III).
This section displays a typical field of a glioblastoma multiforme (grade IV) with pseudopalisading neovascularity, nuclear atypia, numerous mitoses, and areas of hemorrhage.
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