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Temozolomide in the Treatment of Aggressive Pituitary Tumours – An Overview of Existing Knowledge and Future Perspectives

Authors: Ann McCormack
European Neurological Review, 2012;7(4):228-233 DOI:


The management of aggressive pituitary tumours remains a challenge, however, the recent identification of temozolomide as a chemotherapeutic agent with significant efficacy against these tumours has heralded a new therapeutic era. There has been an exponential growth in the international experience with temozolomide over the past five years, now totalling 50 published cases. Overall, 67 % of cases demonstrated a response to temozolomide. Prolactin- and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)-secreting tumours respond more frequently than non-functioning tumours. Response is typically evident in the first three months of treatment. Adverse effects occur in almost half of patients, although the majority are mild. The expression of a DNA repair enzyme, 06-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), as determined by immunohistochemistry, appears to be the primary determinant of response to temozolomide in pituitary tumours. There is suggestion that MGMT may also play a role in pituitary tumorigenesis. Over the nextfew years we will see temozolomide used earlier in the treatment algorithm of aggressive pituitary tumours, making it imperative tocollect global long-term data on its use.

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