Carbon ion radiotherapy effective for treating inoperable spinal
20 August 2013
A new study has shown that carbon ion radiotherapy can control
cancer growth and prolong survival in patients with spinal tumours.
It shows the treatment is a promising alternative for patients whose
spinal tumours cannot be surgically removed.
Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for spinal sarcomas; however
the tumours are one of the most challenging diseases for orthopaedic
surgeons. In addition, some patients are not candidates for surgery
due to the location of the tumour and/or the patient's condition. In
these cases, radiation therapy is generally used.
Carbon ion radiotherapy is a type of radiation therapy that is
known to be effective for treating various types of inoperable
sarcomas, which are tumours that arise from connective tissue. Using
carbon ions to target radiation to the tumour, the treatment is
minimally invasive, has little effect on adjacent healthy tissues,
and has the potential to preserve patients’ quality of life.
To investigate the effectiveness and safety of carbon ion
radiotherapy for inoperable spinal sarcomas, Reiko Imai, MD, PhD, of
the Research Center Hospital for Charged Particle Therapy at the
National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan, and her
colleagues studied the outcomes of 47 patients who received the
treatment between 1996 and 2011.
In 79% of patients, tumour growth was controlled for at least
five years. Also, 52% of patients survived for at least five years
(with 48% of patients surviving that long without experiencing
None of the 15 patients with tumours that were smaller than 100
cm3 had a cancer recurrence. No fatal toxicities occurred from the
treatment, although one patient had a skin reaction, seven patients
experienced vertebral compression salvaged by surgical intervention,
and one developed a spinal cord reaction. Twenty-two of the 28
patients who were alive at the last follow-up appointment could walk
without supportive devices.
“This report is the first one regarding spinal sarcomas treated
with carbon ion radiotherapy, and our findings offer a treatment
alternative to patients with inoperable tumours,” said Dr Imai.
Matsumoto K, et al. and the Working Group for Bone and
Soft Tissue Sarcomas. Impact of Carbon Ion Radiotherapy for Primary
Spinal Sarcoma. Cancer. Published Online: August 12, 2013