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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2009 Nov 15;75(4):1111-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.12.055. Epub 2009 Apr 20.

Effectiveness and safety of spot scanning proton radiation therapy for chordomas and chondrosarcomas of the skull base: first long-term report.

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Center for Proton Radiation Therapy, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland.



To evaluate effectiveness and safety of spot-scanning-based proton radiotherapy (PT) in skull-base chordomas and chondrosarcomas.


Between October 1998 and November 2005, 64 patients with skull-base chordomas (n = 42) and chondrosarcomas (n = 22) were treated at Paul Scherrer Institute with PT using spot-scanning technique. Median total dose for chordomas was 73.5 Gy(RBE) and 68.4 Gy(RBE) for chondrosarcomas at 1.8-2.0 Gy(RBE) dose per fraction. Local control (LC), disease specific survival (DSS), and overall survival (OS) rates were calculated. Toxicity was assessed according to CTCAE, v. 3.0.


Mean follow-up period was 38 months (range, 14-92 months). Five patients with chordoma and one patient with chondrosarcoma experienced local recurrence. Actuarial 5-year LC rates were 81% for chordomas and 94% for chondrosarcomas. Brainstem compression at the time of PT (p = 0.007) and gross tumor volume >25 mL (p = 0.03) were associated with lower LC rates. Five years rates of DSS and OS were 81% and 62% for chordomas and 100% and 91% for chondrosarcomas, respectively. High-grade late toxicity consisted of one patient with Grade 3 and one patient with Grade 4 unilateral optic neuropathy, and two patients with Grade 3 central nervous system necrosis. No patient experienced brainstem toxicity. Actuarial 5-year freedom from high-grade toxicity was 94%.


Our data indicate safety and efficacy of spot-scanning based PT for skull-base chordomas and chondrosarcomas. With target definition, dose prescription and normal organ tolerance levels similar to passive-scattering based PT series, complication-free, tumor control and survival rates are at present comparable.

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