Purpose: Limiting the neurocognitive sequelae of radiotherapy (RT) has been an objective in the treatment of medulloblastoma. Conformal RT to less than the entire posterior fossa (PF) after craniospinal irradiation might reduce neurocognitive sequelae and requires evaluation.
Methods and materials: Between October 1996 and August 2003, 86 patients, 3-21 years of age, with newly diagnosed, average-risk medulloblastoma were treated in a prospective, institutional review board-approved, multi-institution trial of risk-adapted RT and dose-intensive chemotherapy. RT began within 28 days of definitive surgery and consisted of craniospinal irradiation (23.4 Gy), conformal PF RT (36.0 Gy), and primary site RT (55.8 Gy). The planning target volume for the primary site included the postoperative tumor bed surrounded by an anatomically confined margin of 2 cm that was then expanded with a geometric margin of 0.3-0.5 cm. Chemotherapy was initiated 6 weeks after RT and included four cycles of high-dose cyclophosphamide, cisplatin, and vincristine.
Results: At a median follow-up of 61.2 months (range, 5.2-115.0 months), the estimated 5-year event-free survival and cumulative incidence of PF failure rate was 83.0% +/- 5.3% and 4.9% +/- 2.4% (+/- standard error), respectively. The targeting guidelines used in this study resulted in a mean reduction of 13% in the volume of the PF receiving doses >55 Gy compared with conventionally planned RT. The reductions in the dose to the temporal lobes, cochleae, and hypothalamus were statistically significant.
Conclusion: This prospective trial has demonstrated that irradiation of less than the entire PF after 23.4 Gy craniospinal irradiation for average-risk medulloblastoma results in disease control comparable to that after treatment of the entire PF.