Fractionated stereotactic conformal radiotherapy for secreting and nonsecreting pituitary adenomas

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Abstract

Objective

To assess the medium-term outcome in a cohort of patients with residual or recurrent pituitary adenoma treated with fractionated stereotactic conformal radiotherapy (SCRT).

Patients and methods

Ninety-two patients (median age 50 years) with a residual or recurrent nonfunctioning (67) or a secreting (25) pituitary adenoma were treated between 1995 and 2003. Eighteen patients had a GH-secreting, five PRL-secreting and two an ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma. Vision was impaired in 39 patients, with visual field deficit (35) and/or reduced visual acuity (25). Sixty-four patients had partial or complete hypopituitarism before SCRT. The treatment was delivered stereotactically by four noncoplanar conformal fixed fields using a 6-MV linear accelerator to a dose of 45 Gy in 25 fractions.

Results

At a median follow-up of 32 months (range 4–108) the 1, 3 and 5 years actuarial progression-free survival is 99%, 98% and 98%, and overall survival is 98%. Three patients recurred 5 months, 1 year and 9 years after SCRT requiring surgery. In secreting adenomas, hormone levels declined progressively, becoming normal in more than a third of patients with GH-secreting and PRL-secreting pituitary tumours. 50% of baseline GH level was achieved in just under 2 years. The treatment was well tolerated with minimal acute toxicity. Hypopituitarism was the most common long-term effect; 22% of patients had worsening of pituitary function. One patient developed unilateral quadrantopia without tumour progression.

Conclusion

SCRT as a high-precision technique of localized irradiation achieves tumour and hormone control of pituitary adenomas comparable with previously published data on the efficacy of conventional radiotherapy. Despite the potential advantage of reducing the volume of normal brain irradiated, the theoretical benefit over conventional radiotherapy in terms of the reduction in long-term morbidity has not yet been demonstrated and requires longer follow-up. Potential effect on long-term cognitive function has not been tested.

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