Proton therapy for adult craniopharyngioma: Experience of a single institution in 91 consecutive patients

Neuro Oncol. 2023 Apr 6;25(4):710-719. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noac210.


Background: Craniopharyngioma (CP) in adults is a rare benign tumor associated with many morbidities, with limited contemporary studies to define treatment, and follow-up guidelines.

Methods: A single-center retrospective study was conducted on patients aged ≥ 18 years from 2006-2018 with CP and who were treated with proton therapy (PT). Late toxicity was defined as a minimum of 18 months from diagnosis. Overall survival (OS), local recurrence-free survival (LRFS), and toxicity were characterized using Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses.

Results: Ninety-one patients met the criteria, with a median age of 37 years (range 18-82 years). PT was conducted after tumor resection in 88 patients (97%), in 64 patients (70.3%) as an adjuvant strategy and in 27 (29.7%) after recurrent disease. Three patients received exclusive PT. A median MRI follow-up of 39 months revealed 35.2% complete response, 49.5% partial response, and 9.9% stable disease. Five patients developed local recurrence (LR). The pattern of failure study showed that these five LR were within the GTV volume. The 5-year LRFS was 92.0% [CI 95% 84.90-99.60]. All the patients were alive at the end of the follow-up. Patients requiring treatment adaptation during PT tend to have a higher risk of LR (P = .084). Endocrinopathy was the most frequent grade ≥ 2 late toxicity. Among patients who were symptom-free before the start of treatment, none developed hearing toxicity but four (9.8%) developed visual disorders and 10 (11.3%) symptomatic memory impairment. Patients with large tumors had a higher risk of developing symptomatic memory impairment (P = .029).

Conclusion: Adults with CP treated with PT have favorable survival outcomes, with acceptable late toxicity. Prospective quality-of-life and neurocognitive studies are needed to define late adverse effects better.

Keywords: adult; central nervous system tumor; craniopharyngioma; proton therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Craniopharyngioma*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Proton Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult