Radiosurgery with photons or protons for benign and malignant tumours of the skull base: a review

Radiat Oncol. 2012 Dec 14;7:210. doi: 10.1186/1748-717X-7-210.


Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is an important treatment option for intracranial lesions. Many studies have shown the effectiveness of photon-SRS for the treatment of skull base (SB) tumours; however, limited data are available for proton-SRS.Several photon-SRS techniques, including Gamma Knife, modified linear accelerators (Linac) and CyberKnife, have been developed and several studies have compared treatment plan characteristics between protons and photons.The principles of classical radiobiology are similar for protons and photons even though they differ in terms of physical properties and interaction with matter resulting in different dose distributions.Protons have special characteristics that allow normal tissues to be spared better than with the use of photons, although their potential clinical superiority remains to be demonstrated.A critical analysis of the fundamental radiobiological principles, dosimetric characteristics, clinical results, and toxicity of proton- and photon-SRS for SB tumours is provided and discussed with an attempt of defining the advantages and limits of each radiosurgical technique.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chordoma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Meningioma / surgery
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / surgery
  • Particle Accelerators
  • Photons / therapeutic use*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery
  • Proton Therapy*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / surgery*


  • Protons