Ependymoma is one of the most common brain tumors in children under 10 years old. Proton therapy can reduce the low and intermediate radiation dose delivered to uninvolved brain tissue in children with intracranial tumors, which may improve functional outcomes and reduce second malignancies in survivors. Based on this rationale, ependymoma is the most common pediatric tumor treated with proton therapy in the United States.
The authors from the study Outcomes Following Proton Therapy For Pediatric Ependymoma, published last month in Acta Oncologica, report a 3-year survival exceeding 90% in the first 178 children with ependymoma treated with proton therapy at the University of Florida. This series represents the largest single-institution report of intracranial pediatric ependymoma outcomes treated with any radiation modality – proton or x-ray therapy. Therefore it contributes useful information for overall disease management, patient and family counseling, and surveillance guidance for pediatric radiation oncologists worldwide. Moreover, this cohort provides the foundation for continued follow-up studies quantifying the reduction of late toxicity with proton therapy.
“These are encouraging results,” said lead researcher Daniel J. Indelicato, M.D., who holds the Mendenhall Endowed Chair of Pediatric Radiotherapy and serves as associate professor in the UF Department of Radiation Oncology. “We demonstrated that protons are at least as effective as X-rays, in the short term, at reducing the risk of tumor recurrence. Our data further validates the experience reported in smaller groups of patients at other proton therapy centers.”