External beam radiation therapy for advanced/unresectable malignant paraganglioma and pheochromocytoma

William Breen, Irina Bancos, William Francis Young, Keith C. Bible, Nadia N Laack, Robert L. Foote, Christopher Hallemeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate the role of external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) for treatment of malignant paraganglioma (PGL) and pheochromocytoma (PCC). Methods and materials: A retrospective review was performed of all patients with malignant PGL/PCC treated with EBRT at our institution between 1973 and 2015. Local control (LC) per treated lesion and overall survival were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Toxicities were scored using the Common Toxicity Criteria for Adverse Events (AE), version 4. Results: The cohort included 41 patients with 107 sites treated. Median (range) age at EBRT was 33 (11-80) years. Treatment intention was curative in 20 patients (30 lesions) and palliative in 21 patients (77 lesions). The primary tumor was PGL (63%) and PCC (37%). Previous local therapies were surgical resection (90%) and percutaneous ablation (19%). Indications for EBRT were local control (66%), pain (22%), or spinal cord compression (12%). Treatment site included bone (69%), soft tissue (30%), and liver (1%). Median (range) EBRT dose was 40 (6.5-70) Gy. Median biologic effective dose using α/β = 10 (BED10) was 53 (9-132). Median follow-up was 3.8 years (0.04-41.5), and mean follow-up was 9.7 years. Overall survival at 5 years was 65%: 79% for curative- and 50% for palliative-intention patients (P = .028). LC at 5 years was 81% for all lesions; 91% for lesions receiving BED10 ≥53, and 62% for lesions receiving BED10 <53 (P = .001). All 11 lesions treated with stereotactic body RT or radiosurgery had LC at a median of 3.0 (0.2-5.4) years. For the symptomatic lesions, symptoms improved in 94%. There were no acute grade ≥3 treatment-related AEs, including no hypertensive crises. Two patients developed a late grade ≥3 AE. Conclusions: EBRT is a useful treatment modality for malignant PGL and PCC. Higher RT dose was associated with improved LC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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