Objective Radioactive phosphorus-32 (P32) has been used as brachytherapy for craniopharyngiomas with the hope of providing local control of enlarging tumor cysts. Brachytherapy has commonly been used as an adjunct to the standard treatment of surgery and external-beam radiation (EBR). Historically, multimodal treatment, including EBR, has shown tumor control rates as high as 70% at 10 years after treatment. However, EBR is associated with significant longterm risks, including visual deficits, endocrine dysfunction, and cognitive decline. Theoretically, brachytherapy may provide focused local radiation that controls or shrinks a symptomatic cyst without exposing the patient to the risks of EBR. For this study, the authors reviewed their experiences with craniopharyngioma patients treated with P32 brachytherapy as the primary treatment without EBR. The authors reviewed these patients' records to evaluate whether this strategy effectively controls tumor growth, thus avoiding the need for further surgery or EBR. Methods The authors performed a retrospective review of pediatric patients treated for craniopharyngioma between 1997 and 2004. This was the time period during which the authors' institution had a relatively high use of P32 for treatment of cystic craniopharyngioma. All patients who had surgery and injection of P32 without EBR were identified. The patient records were analyzed for complications, cyst control, need for further surgery, and need for future EBR. Results Thirty-eight patients were treated for craniopharyngioma during the study period. Nine patients (23.7%) were identified who had surgery (resection or biopsy) with P32 brachytherapy but without initial EBR. These 9 patients represented the study group. For 1 patient (11.1%), there was a complication with the brachytherapy procedure. Five patients (55.5%) required subsequent surgery. Seven patients (77.7%) required subsequent EBR for tumor growth. The mean time between the injection of P32 and subsequent treatment was 1.67 ± 1.50 years (mean ± SD). Conclusions In this small but focused population, P32 treatment provided limited local control for cyst growth. Brachytherapy alone did not reliably avert the need for subsequent surgery or EBR.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Clinical Neurology