Purpose: Preliminary results of a multi-site Phase I-II clinical trial investigating the efficacy of high-energy proton beams in a wide variety of human malignancies are reported.
Methods and materials: Since 1983 proton radiotherapy using 250 MeV proton beams produced by a booster synchrotron of the National Laboratory for High Energy Physics has been carried out at Proton Medical Research Center, University of Tsukuba. As of September 1990, a total of 147 patients received a partial or full treatment with proton beams with curative intent; 92 patients (63%) were treated with proton beams alone and 55 patients (37%) with combined photon and proton beams. There were 91 males and the mean age was 61.8 years old. The follow-up observation period ranged from 10 to 97 months. With regard to a total tumor dose, nearly 80% of patients received 70 Gy or more and 53% received 80 Gy or more. While dose-fractionations used depended upon tumor sites, the large majority of patients received substantially high radiation doses in terms of larger total doses (> 70 Gy) and larger fraction sizes (> 2.5 Gy) than those traditionally used. This fractionation regimen has been used because of limited availability of the accelerator or a shortage of machine time (27-30 weeks/year, 3-3.5 hr/day), and also by the expectation that the superior dose distribution possible with protons will permit administration of high radiation doses without increasing morbidities. In connection with this, we have determined the target volume by setting margins around the tumor boundary as practically small as possible, ranging from 5 to 10 mm.
Results and conclusions: The current trial has been based on a site and dose searching program, hence a wide variety of tumor sites including the aerodigestive organs has been treated. So far, our judgment is that proton therapy has proven of potential advantage in treatment of the lung, esophageal, liver, uterine cervix, prostate, and head and neck malignancies; and of possible value in treatment of high-grade gliomas, and gastric, urinary bladder, and pediatric tumors.