Predicted Rate of Secondary Malignancies Following Adjuvant Proton Versus Photon Radiation Therapy for Thymoma

J. Vogel, L. Lin, L. A. Litzky, A. T. Berman, C. B. Simone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose Thymic malignancies are the most common tumors of the anterior mediastinum. The benefit of adjuvant radiation therapy for stage II disease remains controversial, and patients treated with adjuvant radiation therapy are at risk of late complications, including radiation-induced secondary malignant neoplasms (SMNs), that may reduce the overall benefit of treatment. We assess the risk of predicted SMNs following adjuvant proton radiation therapy compared with photon radiation therapy after resection of stage II thymic malignancies to determine whether proton therapy improves the risk-benefit ratio. Methods and Materials Ten consecutive patients treated with double-scattered proton beam radiation therapy (DS-PBT) were prospectively enrolled in an institutional review board–approved proton registry study. All patients were treated with DS-PBT. Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) plans for comparison were generated. SMN risk was calculated based on organ equivalent dose. Results Patients had a median age of 65 years (range, 25-77 years), and 60% were men. All patients had stage II disease, and many had close or positive margins (60%). The median dose was 50.4 Gy (range, 50.4-54.0 Gy) in 1.8-Gy relative biological effectiveness daily fractions. No differences in target coverage were seen with DS-PBT compared with IMRT plans. Significant reductions were seen in mean and volumetric lung, heart, and esophageal doses with DS-PBT compared with IMRT plans (all P≤.01). Significant reductions in SMNs in the lung, breast, esophagus, skin, and stomach were seen with DS-PBT compared with IMRT. For patients with thymoma diagnosed at the median national age, 5 excess secondary malignancies per 100 patients would be avoided by treating them with protons instead of photons. Conclusions Treatment with proton therapy can achieve comparable target coverage but significantly reduced doses to critical normal structures, which can lead to fewer predicted SMNs compared with IMRT. By decreasing expected late complications, proton therapy may improve the therapeutic ratio of adjuvant radiation therapy for patients with stage II thymic malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-433
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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