Electron Beam Intraoperative Radiation Therapy for Pediatric Neoplasms

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Background. Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) has potential advantages over conventional external beam radiation in that a single large dose is delivered to the tumor and its regional bed at the time of surgical exploration. The therapeutic ratio is enhanced by direct tumor visualization, precise treatment volume, and exclusion of normal organs. In childhood, local tumor control is critical for lesions that cannot be totally excised or residual disease not ablated by systemic therapy.

Methods. During the past decade, the authors evaluated IORT in pediatric patients with unresectable or recurrent tumors. Fifty-nine patients were treated, 48 for advanced malignant disease and 11 for histologically benign but locally aggressive tumors. Sixty-four operations were performed, during which 84 separate radiation fields were used. High energy electrons at 5–11 MeV were delivered at a dose of 1000–1700 cGy to a tissue depth of 0.5–3 cm.

Results. Of 25 children with advanced neuroblastoma, 15 were alive 14–104 months (mean, 51 months) after treatment. The survival of all patients with solid malignancies was 63%. Local tumor control was achieved in 75% of children with cancer and 91% of those with benign tumors. Complications of IORT at the doses used were trivial.

Conclusions. Electron beam therapy can be safely and efficiently delivered to young patients during operations intended to treat the primary tumor. The outcome achieved for overall survival and local control of the primary tumor is encouraging, and an acceptable complication rate during intermediate to long-term follow-up has been noted. Cancer 1994; 74: 740-7.