One dose of radiation is proving to be an effective, less expensive
method for treating patients with certain benign tumors at the base
of the skull, a new study has found.
The study, published in the February 1999 issue of the International
Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology and Physics, reviewed the
use of linear accelerator radiosurgery in patients with nonacoustic
schwannomas. Linear accelerator radiosurgery is an outpatient
procedure in which radiation can be specifically targeted to the
treatment area. It is a multidisciplinary treatment involving
radiation oncologists, neurosurgeons, and physicists.
Nonacoustic schwannomas are rare, slow growing nerve sheath
tumors that can cause facial pain or numbness as well as other
neurological problems, said Sheilaine Mabanta, MD, of the
University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, Florida.
Standard treatment for these patients is neurosurgery, which requires
several days of hospitalization and can be associated with
significant morbidity and chance for injury, said Dr. Mabanta.
Because the tumor lies on a nerve, the surgeon often cannot
remove the entire tumor without removing or damaging the nerve,
Radiosurgery Controls Tumor Growth, Improves Neurologic Problems
The study examined 18 patients who were treated with radiosurgery; 9
had undergone surgery that was unable to remove the entire tumor and
all showed no progression of disease an average of 32 months after
treatment, said Dr. Mabanta. The complication rate for these patients
was low. In five patients, radiosurgery not only controlled tumor
growth but also improved neurologic problems, such as facial
numbness, she added.
The patients had been referred for radiosurgery if they had residual
disease after surgery, were medically unsuitable for surgery, or were
at least 60 years old, said Dr. Mabanta. Our study found that
this treatment is beneficial, and is a good option for patients with
nonacoustic schwannomas, she said.