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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2002 Mar 15;52(4):1017-24.

Proton radiotherapy in management of pediatric base of skull tumors.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



Primary skull base tumors of the developing child are rare and present a formidable challenge to both surgeons and radiation oncologists. Gross total resection with negative margins is rarely achieved, and the risks of functional, structural, and cosmetic deficits limit the radiation dose using conventional radiation techniques. Twenty-nine children and adolescents treated with conformal proton radiotherapy (proton RT) were analyzed to assess treatment efficacy and safety.


Between July 1992 and April 1999, 29 patients with mesenchymal tumors underwent fractionated proton (13 patients) or fractionated combined proton and photon (16 patients) irradiation. The age at treatment ranged from 1 to 19 years (median 12); 14 patients were male and 15 female. Tumors were grouped as malignant or benign. Twenty patients had malignant histologic findings, including chordoma (n = 10), chondrosarcoma (n = 3), rhabdomyosarcoma (n = 4), and other sarcomas (n = 3). Target doses ranged between 50.4 and 78.6 Gy/cobalt Gray equivalent (CGE), delivered at doses of 1.8-2.0 Gy/CGE per fraction. The benign histologic findings included giant cell tumors (n = 6), angiofibromas (n = 2), and chondroblastoma (n = 1). RT doses for this group ranged from 45.0 to 71.8 Gy/CGE. Despite maximal surgical resection, 28 (97%) of 29 patients had gross disease at the time of proton RT. Follow-up after proton RT ranged from 13 to 92 months (mean 40).


Of the 20 patients with malignant tumors, 5 (25%) had local failure; 1 patient had failure in the surgical access route and 3 patients developed distant metastases. Seven patients had died of progressive disease at the time of analysis. Local tumor control was maintained in 6 (60%) of 10 patients with chordoma, 3 (100%) of 3 with chondrosarcoma, 4 (100%) of 4 with rhabdomyosarcoma, and 2 (66%) of 3 with other sarcomas. The actuarial 5-year local control and overall survival rate was 72% and 56%, respectively, and the overall survival of the males was significantly superior to that of the female patients (p = 0.002). Of the patients with benign tumors, 1 patient (giant cell tumor) had local failure at 10 months. The other 8 patients continued to have local tumor control; all 9 patients were alive at last follow-up (actuarial 5-year local control and overall survival rate of 89% and 100%, respectively). Severe late effects (motor weakness and sensory deficits) were observed in 2 (7%) of 29 patients.


Proton RT for children with aggressively recurring tumors after major skull base surgery can offer a considerable prospect of tumor control and survival. Longer follow-up is necessary to assess the real value of protons, in particular with regard to bone growth and cosmetic outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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