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The pons in the brainstem is a specific region that consists of myelinated axons much like the spinal cord. The thalamus and hypothalamus of the diencephalon also consist of neuron and glial cell tissue with the hypophysis ( pituitary gland ) and pineal gland (which is glandular tissue) attached at the bottom; tumors of the pituitary and pineal gland are often benign. The medulla oblongata is at the start of the spinal cord and is composed mainly of neuron tissue enveloped in Schwann cells and meninges tissue. The spinal cord is made up of bundles of these axons . Glial cells such as Schwann cells in the periphery or, within the cord itself, oligodendrocytes , wrap themselves around the axon, thus promoting faster transmission of electrical signals and also providing for general maintenance of the environment surrounding the cord, in part by shuttling different compounds around in response to injury or other stimulus.
The effectiveness of WBRT has been examined mainly in retrospective studies (Table 3).[13-20,25] Interpreting the data from these studies, however, is difficult because different criteria were used to measure response rates. The response criteria used in the older studies were often based on symptomatic improvement rather than on objective measurements of tumor size on radiographic studies. In addition, many of the patients included in these studies were also treated with chemotherapy, either concurrently with radiation or shortly thereafter. Finally, the chemotherapy regimens varied widely from study to study.