Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 129, Issue 1, pp 15–22 | Cite as

Risk and survival outcomes of radiation-induced CNS tumors

Topic Review


Patients treated with cranial radiation are at risk of developing secondary CNS tumors. Understanding the incidence, treatment, and long-term outcomes of radiation-induced CNS tumors plays a role in clinical decision-making and patient education. Additionally, as meningiomas and pituitary tumors have been detected at increasing rates across all ages and may potentially be treated with radiation, it is important to know and communicate the risk of secondary tumors in children and adults. After conducting an extensive literature search, we identified publications that report incidence and long-term outcomes of radiation-induced CNS tumors. We reviewed 14 studies in children, which reported that radiation confers a 7- to 10-fold increase in subsequent CNS tumors, with a 20-year cumulative incidence ranging from 1.03 to 28.9 %. The latency period for secondary tumors ranged from 5.5 to 30 years, with gliomas developing in 5–10 years and meningiomas developing around 15 years after radiation. We also reviewed seven studies in adults, where the two strongest studies showed no increased risk while the remaining studies found a higher risk compared to the general population. The latency period for secondary CNS tumors in adults ranged from 5 to 34 years. Treatment and long-term outcomes of radiation-induced CNS tumors have been documented in four case series, which did not conclusively demonstrate that secondary CNS tumors fared worse than primary CNS tumors. Radiation-induced CNS tumors remain a rare occurrence that should not by itself impede radiation treatment. Additional investigation is needed on the risk of radiation-induced tumors in adults and the long-term outcomes of these tumors.


Radiation-induced tumor Secondary tumor Brain tumor CNS tumor 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Stich Radiation OncologyWeill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian HospitalNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurosurgeryWeill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian HospitalNew YorkUSA

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