Clinical Trial
Journal Article
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
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Stereotactic radiotherapy for pediatric and adult brain tumors: preliminary report.

PURPOSE: Stereotactic radiotherapy is a new modality that combines the accurate focal dose delivery of stereotactic radiosurgery with the biological advantages of conventional radiotherapy (1.8-2.0 Gy/day using 25-30 fractions). The modality requires sophisticated treatment planning, dedicated high-energy linear accelerator, and relocatable immobilization devices. We report here our early experience using stereotactic radiotherapy for intracranial neoplasms.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Between June 1992 and September 1993, we treated 82 patients with central nervous system lesions using stereotactic radiotherapy, delivered from a dedicated 6 MV stereotactic linear accelerator. A head fixation frame provided daily relocatable setup using a dental plate for all patients over 8 years of age. A modified head frame, which does not require a mouthpiece, was used for children requiring anesthesia. The patients ranged in age from 9 months to 76 years. Thirty-three patients were children less than 21 years of age. Selection criteria for the protocol included: (a) focal, small (< 5 cm) radiographically distinct lesions known to be radiocurable (pituitary adenoma, craniopharyngioma, meningioma, acoustic neuroma, pilocytic astrocytoma, retinoblastoma), and (b) lesions located in regions not amenable to surgery or radiosurgery such as the brain stem or chiasm. Standard fractionation and conventional doses were delivered. Patients with low-grade astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, or ependymoma were treated using a dose escalation regime consisting of conventional doses plus a 10% increase.

RESULTS: Although follow-up is 16 months (range 3-16 months), posttreatment radiographic studies in 77 patients have been consistent with changes similar to those found after conventional radiation therapy. To date, reduction of up to 50% of the original volume has been noted in 19 out of 77 patients, and 4 patients had a complete response, 2 with dysgerminoma, and 1 each with astrocytoma and retinoblastoma. In 56 patients disease was either stable or the follow-up was too short for evaluation. While the follow-up is relatively short, there have been no in-field or marginal recurrences. The only unexpected radiographic findings were in three patients with pilocytic astrocytomas, who developed asymptomatic edema in the treatment volume. Accuracy in daily fractionation was excellent. In over 2000 patient setups with 41,000 scalp measurements, reproducibility was found to be within 0.41 mm (median) of baseline readings, allowing for precise immobilization throughout the treatment course. The treatment in all cases was well tolerated with minimal acute effects. Our stereotactic radiotherapy facility can provide fractionated therapy for 10-12 patients a day efficiently and accurately.

CONCLUSIONS: The treatment and relocatable stereotactic head frames were well tolerated with minimal acute effects. No long-term sequelae have been noted, although the observation period is short. To fully define the role of stereotactic radiotherapy, we are conducting prospective studies to evaluate neurocognitive and neuroendocrine effects. We expect that this innovative approach will make a significant impact on the treatment of intracranial neoplasms, particularly in children.

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