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Conformal Radiation Therapy for Ependymoma Age 3 Years: 25 Year Experience.

PURPOSE: Adjuvant radiation therapy (RT) affects survival after surgery for young children (age <3 years) diagnosed with intracranial ependymoma. Conformal photon RT promised to spare normal tissue and was introduced more than 25 years ago to improve outcomes for these vulnerable patients. Long-term results for those first treated with conformal methods provide valuable information and serve as a comparison against newer methods.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Between 1997 and 2018, 101 patients <3.1-years-old were treated with conformal and intensity modulated photon therapy after definitive surgery for intracranial ependymoma. The median age at RT was 2.1 years and the time from diagnosis to the start of RT was 10 weeks. The extent of resection was gross-total in 82%, and 38% underwent more than 1 attempt at resection. The total prescribed dose was 54 to 59.4 Gy at 1.8 Gy per fraction.

RESULTS: The 10-year event-free and overall survivals were 58.5% ± 5.0% and 72.6% ± 4.5%, respectively, with a median follow-up of 18.4 years (range, 4.2-23.3 years). Tumor progression occurred in 34 patients with a median time of 1.6 years. Death occurred in 34 patients from ependymoma (n = 24), secondary malignancy (n = 6), necrosis (n = 2), shunt failure (n = 1), and anaphylactic reaction (n = 1). Twenty-three patients developed a secondary tumor including 6 cases of fatal high-grade glioma. Of the surviving cohort and those ≥18 years old, 98% obtained a high school diploma, 64% had a current driver's license, 89% were students or employed full or part time, 32% were living independently, and 70% received higher education or training.

CONCLUSIONS: Long-term results of children treated using photon conformal RT after surgery demonstrate that adjuvant RT resulted in long-term disease control and functional independence. These results point to the need for new treatment strategies to improve tumor control and provide investigators hope that newer RT methods will further reduce complications.

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