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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1996 Sep 1;36(2):433-41.

Reirradiation of primary CNS tumors.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, London Regional Cancer Center, Ontario, Canada.



Primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors are seldom reirradiated due to toxicity concerns and sparse clinical data regarding efficacy.


We retrospectively reviewed 34 patients with primary brain tumors retreated with fractionated external beam irradiation at the University of California, San Francisco from 1977-1993. Tumors included 15 medulloblastomas, 10 high-grade gliomas, 7 low-grade gliomas, and 2 meningiomas.


Initial course of radiation was radical in intent for all patients. Median age at initial diagnosis was 19.8 years (range: 3.6-67). Median interval between radiation courses was 16.3 months (range: 3.8-166). Median Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) prior to reirradiation was 80 (range: 40-100). Reirradiation volumes overlapped previous treatment in 30 patients and were nonoverlapping in 4 patients. Fractionation schemes used were hyperfractionated in 17, conventionally fractionated in 9, and hypofractionated in 8. Cumulative maximum overlap dose within the CNS ranged from 43.2-111 Gy (median: 79.7 Gy). Retreatment was completed as planned in 27 out of 34 patients and modified or aborted in 7 (four tumor progression on retreatment, three patient request). As measured from the time of retreatment median progression free and overall survival was 3.3 and 8.3 months. Clinical and radiographic indices were stabilized or improved in about half of patients evaluable at a median of 3 months postretreatment. Complications (early or late) potentially attributable to retreatment were noted in 10 of 34 (29%) of patients. Overt necrosis was noted in 3 of 34 (9%) of patients and the actuarial risk of necrosis was 22% at 1 year following retreatment.


Reirradiation of primary central nervous system tumors was associated with only modest palliative and survival benefits in this retrospective review. Difficulties separating toxicity due to retreatment vs. tumor progression and limited patient survival following retreatment preclude definite conclusions regarding the safety of this practice.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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