Corticosteroids are routinely used to treat brain tumors. Although steroids have an immediate clinical benefit, their use can lead to a number of relevant complications, and a negative association with overall survival has been shown in glioblastoma (GBM) patients. There is no evidence in the literature regarding the ideal dose. We assessed the use of steroids in patients with GBM after resection surgery.
This is a cohort study of 131 newly diagnosed GBM patients that underwent tumor resection surgery. Dose of steroids was as low as possible, without a formal guideline. Fifteen patients were lost at baseline (retention rate, 88.5%). Our population for analysis included 114 patients that were still at risk of death at a landmark time point 2 months after surgery.
Within 1 month of surgery, 93.9% of patients came off steroids, and 84.7% came off steroids before 2 weeks. One month after radiotherapy, 86 (75.4%) patients remained steroid-free and 28 (24.6%) were steroid-dependent. During 2235 person-months of follow-up, we documented 101 incident deaths. After adjusting for age, sex, Karnofsky Performance Scale score, MGMT promoter methylation, and extent of tumor resection, and time to surgery, the hazard ratio for the steroid-free group of patients was 0.46 (95% confidence interval, 0.28-0.77) compared with steroid-dependent patients.
This study provides evidence for an inverse association between the lack of steroid dependency and mortality risk in patients whose steroid dosage was rapidly tapered after surgery. After resection, most patients can stop steroids within 2 weeks and finish radiotherapy without steroids.