Background: The goal of this study was to evaluate outcomes in children with relapsed, molecularly characterized intracranial ependymoma treated with or without craniospinal irradiation (CSI) as part of a course of repeat radiation therapy (re-RT).
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of 31 children. Patients with distant relapse received CSI as part of re-RT. For patients with locally recurrent ependymoma, those treated before 2012 were re-irradiated with focal re-RT. In 2012, institutional practice changed to offer CSI, followed by boost re-RT to the site of resected or gross disease.
Results: Median follow-up was 5.5 years. Of 9 patients with distant relapse after initial RT, 2-year freedom from progression (FFP) and overall survival (OS) were 12.5% and 62.5%, respectively. There were 22 patients with local failure after initial RT. In these patients, use of CSI during re-RT was associated with improvement in 5-year FFP (83.3% with CSI vs 15.2% with focal re-RT only, P = 0.030). In the subgroup of patients with infratentorial primary disease, CSI during re-RT also improved 5-year FFP (100% with CSI, 10.0% with focal re-RT only, P = 0.036). Twenty-three patients had known molecular status; all had posterior fossa group A tumors (n = 17) or tumors with a RELA (v-rel avian reticuloendotheliosis viral oncogene homolog A) fusion (n = 6). No patient developed radiation necrosis after fractionated re-RT, though almost all survivors required assistance throughout formal schooling. Five out of 10 long-term survivors have not developed neuroendocrine deficits.
Conclusions: Re-irradiation with CSI is a safe and effective treatment for children with locally recurrent ependymoma and improves disease control compared with focal re-irradiation, with the benefit most apparent for those with infratentorial primary tumors.
Keywords: ependymoma; pediatrics; re-irradiation; recurrence.
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