Study Indicates Proton Therapy May Improve Treatment of Rare but Aggressive Cranial-base Tumor

Dr. Annie Chan, who led the study for MGH Radiation Oncology, said: “We are very encouraged by our results, in which local tumor control of advanced adenoid cystic carcinoma of the cranial base compared very favorably with results reported from traditional radiation therapy.” Frequently originating in the salivary glands, adenoid cystic carcinoma is an indolent but aggressive tumor that is usually treated surgically at an an early stage. However, when it originates in or spreads into the cranial base –a complex area involving the cranial nerves, the eyes and critical brain structure – it is impossible to remove the tumor safely. Traditional radiation has had limited success in controlling the tumor’s growth. With proton therapy only 9 percent of patients had local recurrence of their tumors, while with traditional radiation tumors recur locally more than 70 percent of the time. MGH reported it is investigating whether combining proton beam radiation therapy with chemotherapy could further improve outcomes for these patients. (November, 2006).

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