Outcome and Toxicity of Proton Therapy for Vestibular Schwannoma: A Cohort Study

Otol Neurotol. 2021 Dec 1;42(10):1560-1571. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000003313.


Objective: To assess the efficacy and toxicity of proton radiotherapy in vestibular schwannoma.

Study design: Retrospective chart review and volumetric MRI-analyses.

Setting: Tertiary referral center.

Patients: Vestibular schwannoma patients treated with protons between 2003 and 2018.

Intervention: Proton radiotherapy.

Main outcome measures: Tumor control was defined as not requiring salvage treatment. Progressive hearing loss was defined as a decrease in maximum speech discrimination score below the 95% critical difference in reference to the pretreatment score. Hearing assessment includes contralateral hearing and duration of follow-up. Dizziness and/or unsteadiness and facial and trigeminal nerve function were scored. Patients who had surgery prior to proton radiotherapy were separately assessed.

Results: Of 221 included patients, 136 received single fraction and 85 fractionated proton radiotherapy. Actuarial 5-year local control rate was 96% (95% CI 90-98%). The median radiological follow-up was 4.5 years. Progressive postirradiation speech discrimination score loss occurred in 42% of patients with audiometric follow-up within a year. Facial paresis was found in 5% (usually mild), severe dizziness in 5%, and trigeminal neuralgia in 5% of patients receiving protons as primary treatment.

Conclusions: Proton radiotherapy achieves high tumor control with modest side effects aside from hearing loss in vestibular schwannoma patients. Limited and heterogeneous outcome reporting hamper comparisons to the literature. Potential sequelae of radiation therapy impacting vestibular function, cognitive function, and quality of life warrant further evaluation. Subgroups that benefit most from proton radiotherapy should be identified to optimize allocation and counterbalance its costs.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Neuroma, Acoustic* / complications
  • Proton Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiosurgery* / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome