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, she added.
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.