Abstract Thyroid cancer comprises a broad spectrum of diseases with variable prognoses. Although most patients with this disease have excellent overall survival, there are some who do not fare so well. With the worldwide increase in incidence, the need to identify which tumours pose the greatest risk to patients is more acute than ever. This paper will discuss this rising trend in incidence with an analysis of the possible reasons for the increase. In addition, the paper will explore the factors that portend a worse prognosis for the individual patient. Finally, the limitations of the current staging systems will be discussed, with particular emphasis on why they are not as informative in the management of patients with thyroid cancer.
Abstract Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma ranges from 1.3 to 9.8% of all thyroid cancers globally. Mutations, amplifications, activation of oncogenes and silencing of tumour suppressor genes contribute to its aggressive behaviour, and recent studies (e.g. microarrays, microRNAs) have provided further insights into its complex molecular dysregulation. Preclinical studies have identified numerous proteins over- or underexpressed that affect critical cellular processes, including transcription, signalling, mitosis, proliferation, cell cycle, apoptosis and adhesion, and a variety of agents that effectively inhibit these processes and tumour growth. In clinical studies of 1771 patients, 64% were women, the median survival was 5 months, and 1-year survival was 20%. The variables associated with survival in some series included age, tumour size, extent of surgery, higher dose radiotherapy, absence of distant metastases at presentation, co-existence of differentiated thyroid cancer and multimodality therapy. However, considerable bias exists in these non-randomised studies. Although more aggressive radiotherapy has reduced locoregional recurrences, the median overall survival has not improved in over 50 years. Newer systemic therapies are being tried, and more effective combinations are needed to improve patient outcomes.
Abstract Aims Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) is a development of three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy that offers improvements in dosimetry in many clinical scenarios. Here we review the clinical evidence for IMRT and present ongoing or unpublished randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Methods We identified randomised and non-randomised comparative studies of IMRT and conventional radiotherapy using MEDLINE, hand-searching Radiotherapy and Oncology and the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics and the proceedings of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology and the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology annual meetings. The meta Register of Controlled Trials was searched to identify completed-unpublished, ongoing and planned RCTs. Results Sixty-one studies comparing IMRT and conventional radiotherapy were identified. These included three RCTs in head and neck cancer (205 patients) and three in breast cancer (664 patients) that had reported clinical outcomes; these were all powered for toxicity-related end points, which were significantly better with IMRT in each trial. There were 27 additional non-randomised studies in head and neck (1119 patients), 26 in prostate cancer (>5000 patients), four in breast cancer (875 patients) and nine in other tumour sites. The results of these studies supported those of the RCTs with benefits reported in acute and late toxicity, health-related quality of life and tumour control end points. Twenty-eight completed-unpublished, ongoing or planned RCTs incorporating IMRT were identified, including at least 12,310 patients, of which 15 compared conventional radiotherapy within IMRT as a randomisation or pre-planned stratification. Discussion Inverse-planned IMRT maintains parotid saliva production and reduces acute and late xerostomia during radiotherapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer, reduces late rectal toxicity in prostate cancer patients allowing safe dose escalation and seems to reduce toxicity in several other tumour sites. Forward-planned IMRT reduces acute toxicity and improves late clinician-assessed cosmesis compared with conventional tangential breast radiotherapy.
Abstract The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the effects of different exercise prescription parameters during cancer treatment on cancer-related fatigue (CRF). We also aimed to gain insight into the safety and feasibility of exercise during adjuvant cancer treatment. A systematic search of CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Embase, Medline, Scopus and PEDro was carried out. Randomised controlled trials studying the effects of exercise during cancer treatment on CRF were included. In total, 18 studies (12 in breast, four in prostate and two in other cancer patients) met all the inclusion criteria. During breast cancer treatment, home-based exercise lead to a small, non-significant reduction (standardised mean difference 0.10, 95% confidence interval −0.25 to 0.45), whereas supervised aerobic exercise showed a medium, significant reduction in CRF (standardised mean difference 0.30, 95% confidence interval 0.09 to 0.51) compared with no exercise. A subgroup analysis of home-based ( n = 65) and supervised aerobic ( n = 98) and resistance exercise programmes ( n = 208) in prostate cancer patients showed no significant reduction in CRF in favour of the exercise group. Adherence ranged from 39% of the patients who visited at least 70% of the supervised exercise sessions to 100% completion of a home-based walking programme. In more than half the studies (12 of 18; 67%) adverse events were reported. Eight events in total (0.72%) occurred in these studies.
Abstract Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) accounts for 5–8% of all thyroid cancers. MTC is mainly sporadic in nature, but an hereditary pattern [multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2)] is present in 20–30% of cases, transmitted as an autosomal-dominant trait due to germline mutations of the RET proto-oncogene. About 98% of patients with MEN 2 have germline mutations in exons 5, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 or 16 of the RET gene. The primary treatment of both hereditary and sporadic forms of MTC is total thyroidectomy and removal of all neoplastic tissue present in the neck. The therapeutic option for lymph node surgery should be dictated by the results of presurgical evaluation. After total thyroidectomy, measurements of serum calcitonin (CT) and carcinoembryonic antigen are of paramount importance in the postsurgical follow-up of patients with MTC as they reflect the presence of persistent or recurrent disease. Complete remission is demonstrated by undetectable and stimulated serum CT measurement. On the contrary, if serum CT is detectable under basal conditions or becomes detectable after stimulation, the patient is probably not cured, but imaging techniques will not demonstrate any disease until serum CT approaches levels >150 pg/ml. The tumour metastasises early to both paratracheal and lateral cervical lymph nodes. Metastases outside the neck may occur in the liver, lungs, bones and, less frequently, brain and skin. Surgery is the main treatment for local and distant metastases whenever feasible. Systemic chemotherapy with dacarbazine, 5-fluorouracil and doxorubicin (alone or in combination) has shown very limited efficacy, achieving only partial responses in the range of 10–20% and of short duration. Several kinase inhibitors are currently under evaluation and preliminary results are promising. Familial cases must be identified by searching for RET proto-oncogene mutations in the proband and in family members. Carriers of the RET gene are candidates for prophylactic thyroidectomy at different ages depending on the risk associated with the specific RET mutations.
Abstract Chronic radiation enteritis is an increasing problem, as more patients receive radiotherapy as part of their cancer therapy and as the long-term survival of these patients improves. This review addresses the causes, investigation, treatment and prevention of this disease. A review of published studies was carried out using a variety of search terms, including radiation enteritis, investigation, treatment and prevention. Chronic radiation enteritis has been reported in up to 20% of patients receiving pelvic radiotherapy, although this may underestimate its true prevalence, as not all patients with gastrointestinal symptoms after radiotherapy will seek medical attention. Predisposing factors to chronic radiation enteritis include a low body mass index, previous abdominal surgery and the presence of co-morbid conditions; the radiation dose, fractionation and technique, as well as the concomitant use of chemotherapy, may also play a role. Clinical features of chronic radiation enteritis are multiple as the disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Moreover, symptom aetiology within any one patient may be multifactorial and therefore it is important to adopt a structured approach when planning investigations. The evidence base for current therapies is limited, but nutrition, anti-diarrhoeals, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, probiotics, pentoxifylline, tocopherol, cholestyramine, hyperbaric oxygen, endoscopic and surgical therapies have all received attention. Given the significant morbidity and mortality associated with chronic radiation enteritis, current available preventative strategies are reviewed, including tissue-sparing radiotherapy techniques. In conclusion, the evidence base for therapeutic and preventative strategies in treating chronic radiation enteritis is limited, but adopting a structured approach to investigating gastrointestinal symptoms after radiotherapy should allow better targeting of current therapies. Closer collaboration between oncologists and gastroenterologists will facilitate a more structured approach, not only in managing individual patients, but also in establishing clinical and research networks for this expanding disease, in order to improve the evidence base for its management.
Abstract Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) combines the challenge of meeting the stringent dosimetric requirements of stereotactic radiosurgery with that of accounting for the physiological movement of tumour and normal tissue. Here we present an overview of the history and development of SBRT and discuss the radiobiological rationale upon which it is based. The published results of SBRT for lung, liver, pancreas, kidney, prostate and spinal lesions are reviewed and summarised. The current evidence base is appraised and important ongoing trials are identified.
Abstract Aims Obesity is associated with both an increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and increased mortality rates. The mechanism is unclear, and central (visceral) obesity, insulin resistance, altered sex steroids and altered adipokines are mooted as possible factors. These features may cluster in the so-called metabolic syndrome. The relevance of metabolic syndrome to the biology of breast cancer is unknown, and this was the focus of the present study. Materials and methods All postmenopausal women with newly diagnosed breast cancer ( n = 105) were recruited. A detailed clinical history was carried out, as well as a body composition analysis, metabolic screen and measurement of adipokines and inflammatory markers. Results The median age was 68 years (40–94 years) and the mean body mass index was 28.3 ± 5.2 kg/m2 , with 87% of patients centrally obese. Metabolic syndrome was diagnosed in 39% of patients, and was significantly associated with central obesity ( P < 0.005) and increased inflammation, with C-reactive protein levels doubling in metabolic syndrome patients compared with non-metabolic syndrome patients (10.3 vs 5.8 mg/l; P = 0.084). Patients with a later pathological stage (II–IV) were significantly more likely to be obese ( P = 0.007), centrally obese ( P = 0.009), hyperglycaemic ( P = 0.047) and hyperinsulinaemic ( P = 0.026); 51% had metabolic syndrome compared with 12% for early stage disease. Patients with node-positive disease were significantly more likely to be hyperinsulaemic ( P = 0.030) and have metabolic syndrome ( P = 0.028) than patients with node-negative disease. Discussion The data suggest that metabolic syndrome and central obesity are common in postmenopausal breast cancer patients, and that metabolic syndrome may be associated with a more aggressive tumour biology.
Abstract For patients with metastatic differentiated thyroid carcinoma that progresses despite standard therapies, systemic cytotoxic chemotherapy has traditionally been a limited option. Historically, phase II studies and small retrospective series have failed to identify highly effective drugs or regimens, in part by failing to recruit sufficient numbers of patients. Doxorubicin remains the single most effective cytotoxic chemotherapy for the treatment of metastatic disease, although complete responses are rare, partial responses limited and toxicity considerable. Newer agents, such as pemetrexed, may be of benefit and potentially better tolerated. Newer approaches to treatment as well as trial design and recruitment, emphasising the role of thyroid cancer patients in early drug trials, may yield advances in patient benefit.
Abstract Aims A retrospective analysis was carried out of 291 cases of oesophageal cancer treated with definitive chemoradiotherapy (dCRT) at a single UK cancer centre between 1995 and 2009. Our protocol consisted of two cycles of neoadjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy followed by two further cycles given concurrently with 50 Gy of external beam radiotherapy delivered in 25 fractions over 5 weeks. Materials and methods Demographic, patient and outcome data were recorded prospectively through an electronic health record and retrospectively analysed, using appropriate statistical tools. Results Data on 266 patients were available for analysis. The median age was 66.6 years, 53% were adenocarcinomas. dCRT was used instead of surgery because of age/co-morbidity in 44% and disease extent in 39%. Ninety-three per cent of patients completed treatment according to protocol. Grade 3 and 4 toxicities were seen in 42 and 7%, respectively. Median survival was 20.6 months; 2, 3 and 5 year survival rates were 43.6, 32.9 and 19.5%, respectively. Advanced disease was associated with a worse outcome. Shorter disease length was associated with a better median survival, but some patients with disease >10 cm had long-term disease control. The effect of other patient- and disease-related factors was also analysed. Conclusion We present data showing that dCRT is well tolerated and should be considered as an alternative to surgery for all patients with locally advanced oesophageal cancer, not only those with co-morbidity. Furthermore, the benefits of dCRT are not confined to carcinomas with squamous histology.
Abstract Aims To correlate the pre-treatment plasma Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) DNA with tumour burden and to explore the prognostic implications of pre- and post-treatment plasma EBV DNA load in nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients treated with radiotherapy. Materials and methods Plasma EBV DNA load was measured using a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay in 69 patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma before and after radiation treatment and correlated with tumour volume and treatment outcome. Tumour volume was calculated by multiplying the sum of the areas of gross extent of the primary tumour and regional lymph nodes shown by computed tomography images and/or magnetic resonance imaging. Prognostic models for distant metastasis and overall survival were constructed using a multivariable fractional polynomial algorithm. Results The pre-treatment plasma EBV DNA concentration was significantly associated with tumour volume (Spearman correlation coefficient, 0.61; P < 0.001). The multivariable fractional polynomial algorithm selected post-treatment EBV DNA and administration of chemotherapy as prognostic factors for distant metastasis ( P < 0.001, P = 0.021, respectively), as well as for overall survival ( P < 0.001, P = 0.018, respectively). Conclusions Pre- and post-treatment plasma EBV DNA load have important clinical significance. Pre-treatment plasma EBV DNA concentration reflects tumour burden, whereas clearance of circulating plasma EBV DNA after treatment predicts the risk of distant metastasis and overall survival.
Abstract Aims To compare survival and late complications between patients treated with chemoradiotherapy and radiotherapy for locally advanced cervix cancer. Materials and methods A Royal College of Radiologists’ audit of patients treated with radiotherapy in UK cancer centres in 2001–2002. Survival, recurrence and late complications were assessed for patients grouped according to radical treatment received (radiotherapy, chemoradiotherapy, postoperative radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy) and non-radical treatment. Late complication rates were assessed using the Franco-Italian glossary. Results Data were analysed for 1243 patients from 42 UK centres. Overall 5-year survival was 56% (any radical treatment); 44% (radical radiotherapy); 55% (chemoradiotherapy) and 71% (surgery with postoperative radiotherapy). Overall survival at 5 years was 59% (stage IB), 44% (stage IIB) and 24% (stage IIIB) for women treated with radiotherapy, and 65% (stage IB), 61% (stage IIB) and 44% (stage IIIB) for those receiving chemoradiotherapy. Cox regression showed that survival was significantly better for patients receiving chemoradiotherapy (hazard ratio = 0.77, 95% confidence interval 0.60–0.98; P = 0.037) compared with those receiving radiotherapy taking age, stage, pelvic node involvement and treatment delay into account. The grade 3/4 late complication rate was 8% (radiotherapy) and 10% (chemoradiotherapy). Although complications continued to develop up to 7 years after treatment for those receiving chemoradiotherapy, there was no apparent increase in overall late complications compared with radiotherapy alone when other factors were taken into account (hazard ratio = 0.94, 95% confidence interval 0.71–1.245; P = 0.667). Discussion The addition of chemotherapy to radiotherapy seems to have improved survival compared with radiotherapy alone for women treated in 2001–2002, without an apparent rise in late treatment complications.
Abstract A substantial proportion of patients who have undergone a radical prostatectomy for localised prostate cancer will have either persistently detectable prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels or a delayed rise in PSA. The optimum treatment for these situations is not known. The key question is whether the PSA is reflective of local or distant progression. For salvage radiotherapy to be most effective, treatment should be considered before the PSA level is allowed to rise too high, when disease is more likely to be confined to the prostate bed. However, at low PSA levels, current imaging techniques are poor at detecting disease, making it difficult to differentiate local and distant recurrences and to target the radiotherapy appropriately. We review current and investigational imaging techniques, including bone scan, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography and Prostascint, assessing their utility in the situation of biochemical recurrence after radical prostatectomy.
Abstract High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) has recently been promoted as a non-invasive treatment option for prostate cancer. This systematic review sought to evaluate the evidence comparing it with standard treatment in patients with localised prostate cancer. The literature review included searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, annual meetings’ abstracts and websites of evidence-based practice guideline producers. Studies were included if they were randomised controlled trials comparing HIFU with current management approaches, or were meta-analyses, systematic reviews or practice guidelines addressing HIFU. No randomised controlled trials or meta-analyses were identified. Seven systematic reviews and two practice guidelines were identified; neither contained randomised controlled trials. Adjusting the selection criteria to include case series found 34 clinical studies of HIFU. Twenty-nine evaluated HIFU as the primary treatment and five examined HIFU as salvage treatment for recurrence after radiotherapy. In most studies the outcomes used to determine efficacy were negative biopsy rates or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. Among the 29 studies of HIFU as the primary treatment, negative biopsy rates ranged from 35 to 95% in 21 studies, a PSA nadir of ≤0.5 ng/ml ranged from 55 to 91% in 10 studies and mean PSA nadirs ranged from 0 to 1.9 ng/ml in 17 studies. Five studies reported 5-year disease-free survival rates ranging from 55 to 95%. Among five studies of HIFU as salvage treatment, negative biopsy rates ranged from 73 to 84% in four studies, a PSA nadir of ≤0.5 ng/ml ranged from 57 to 66% in three studies and mean PSA nadirs were 1.97 and 2.38 ng/ml in two studies, respectively. Current evidence on HIFU use in prostate cancer patients is of low quality, rendering it difficult to draw conclusions about its efficacy. Until results from case series are confirmed in prospective studies, the widespread use of HIFU is not supported.
Abstract Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare endocrine malignancy. The reported incidence is from 0.5 to 5% of primary hyperparathyroidism cases in various series. The cause is unknown, but clinical correlations with different genetic syndromes exist. Mutations in the HPRT2 gene seem to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of this disease. Men and women are equally affected, usually in the fourth or fifth decade of life. Most patients will present with signs and symptoms of hypercalcaemia. Cases of non-functioning carcinoma are exceedingly rare. Surgical resection is the most effective method of treatment and palliation. A significant proportion of patients will experience recurrence, and will need further surgical and, eventually, medical management of hypercalcaemia. The disease is progressive but slow growing. Most patients will require multiple operations to resect recurrent disease. The main cause of morbidity and mortality is the sequela of uncontrolled chronic hypercalcaemia rather than tumour burden. The current paper will review the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical presentation and diagnostic work-up of this disease. Surgical management in different scenarios is reviewed in detail, followed by other types of treatment and management of incurable disease.
Abstract Radiotherapy target volume definition is a critical step in the radiotherapy treatment planning process for all tumour sites. New technology may improve the identification of tumour from normal tissue for the purposes of target volume definition. In assessing the proffered benefits of new technologies, rigorous methods of comparison are necessary. A review of published studies was conducted using PubMed (National Library of Medicine) between 1 January 1995 and 1 January 2009 using predefined search terms. The frequency of usage of the various methods of geometrical comparison (simple volume assessment, centre of mass analysis, concordance index and volume edge analysis) was recorded. Sixty-three studies were identified, across a range of primary tumour sites. The most common method of target volume analysis was simple volume measurement; this was described in 84% of the papers analysed. The concordance index type analysis was described in 30%, the centre of mass analysis in 9.5% and the volume edge analysis in 4.8%. In reporting geometrical differences between target volumes no standard exists. However, to optimally describe geometrical changes in target volumes, simple volume change and a measure of positional change should be assessed.
Abstract Breakthrough pain is a transient exacerbation of pain that occurs either spontaneously or in relation to a specific predictable or unpredictable trigger, despite relatively stable and adequately controlled background pain. A typical episode of breakthrough pain has a fast onset and short duration, yet despite the self-limiting nature of each breakthrough pain, the repeated episodes can have a significant effect on patients’ quality of life. Normal-release oral opioids have been the mainstay pharmacological approach for patients who are receiving an around the clock opioid regimen, but the onset and duration of action of oral opioids such as morphine may not be suitable for treating many breakthrough pains. Efforts to provide non-parenteral opioid formulations that could provide more rapid, and more effective, relief of breakthrough pain have led to the development of transmucosal opioid formulations.
Abstract Aims To determine the availability of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) treatment in the UK and to assess the magnitude of the shortfall in terms of patient treatments. In addition, the availability of image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) was also reviewed. Materials and methods A survey was carried out between July and September 2008 of the use of advanced technology in radiotherapy. Results In total, 50 centres responded out of the 58 National Health Service centres canvassed, representing about 89% of patients treated in the UK. Forty-six centres had at least two machines capable of IMRT and 26 centres had at least one machine capable of IGRT. Thirty-two centres were carrying out forward-planned IMRT and 18 centres were carrying out the more complex inverse-planned IMRT. In all, 38 centres (76% of respondents) were offering either forward- or inverse-planned IMRT to some of their patients. All the centres with IGRT capability were using IGRT for at least some of their patients. Respondents were asked to list the total number of radical and palliative patients being treated according to the treatment site. Forty-two per cent of respondents took the option to list the total number of radical and palliative patients only. Based on these data, 10.7% of radical patients are currently being given forward-planned IMRT, mainly for breast cancer (18.6% of such patients) and 2.2% of radical patients are being given inverse-planned IMRT, mainly for prostate (7.5% of such patients) and head and neck cancer (6.7% of such patients). Whereas at present only 18 centres are able to treat with inverse-planned IMRT, 45 centres expected to be able to do so by 2010. Respondents were asked to estimate the percentage of patients who should be given IMRT for each site and this was used to estimate the shortfall in IMRT provision. Conclusions Based on the consensus of opinion, 32% of radically treated patients should receive inverse-planned IMRT and 22% forward-planned IMRT, making a total of 55%. In fact, 2% receive inverse-planned IMRT and 11% the less complex forward-planned IMRT. Thus, with an estimated 75 948 radical treatments being carried out with megavoltage radiotherapy, the professional opinion is that 41 421 of patients would benefit from treatment with IMRT. In fact, only 9775 were so treated in 2008; a shortfall of 32 497 patients treated instead with conventional radiotherapy.
Abstract Aims The primary aims of the Korean Hereditary Breast Cancer (KOHBRA) study are to estimate the prevalence of BRCA1/2 mutations and ovarian cancer among a high-risk group of patients with hereditary breast cancer and their families. Materials and methods The KOHBRA study is a prospective multicentre cohort identifying cases and their families. Between May 2007 and May 2010, the KOHBRA study enrolled up to 2000 subjects. All participants received genetic counselling and BRCA genetic testing; the clinical information and blood samples for blood banking were collected. An interim analysis of the prevalence of BRCA1/2 mutations and ovarian cancer in Korean subjects was determined from the initial 975 patients who presented to 33 centres. Results By April 2009, a total of 167 mutation carriers among 853 probands were identified. The prevalence of the BRCA mutation was as follows: 24.8% (106/428) for breast cancer patients with a family history of breast/ovarian cancers; 11.3% (24/212) for patients with early-onset (<35 years) breast cancer without a family history; 22.1% (15/68) for patients with bilateral breast cancer; male breast cancer in 8.3% (1/12); and 33.4% (1/3) for patients with breast and ovarian cancer. Conclusions The results of this study suggest that the prevalence of BRCA mutations in Korean subjects is similar to the prevalence reported among Western cohorts. However, weak family history and non-familial early-onset of breast cancer were significant factors associated with carrying the BRCA mutation in Korean breast cancer patients. Completion of the KOHBRA study is needed to confirm these findings.
Abstract Aims High-dose radiotherapy after surgical debulking is the treatment of choice for chordomas and chondrosarcomas. This study reviewed our outcomes, in relation to residual tumour volume and radiation dose, in order to inform our future practice. Patients and methods Nineteen patients referred to the Neuro-Oncology Unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital (Cambridge, UK) between 1996 and 2009 and treated with photon radiotherapy were reviewed. Seventeen of the 19 were treated with curative intent. The median follow-up was 53 months. The tumours in the study had a mean gross tumour volume (GTV) of 17.2 cm3 (median 10.5 cm3 ) and a range of 0–76.3 cm3 . The median dose was 65 Gy in 39 fractions. Results The 5 year cause-specific survival for radically treated patients with chordomas was 92% and the 5 year local control rate was 83%. The 5 year cause-specific survival and local control rates with chondrosarcomas were both 100%. A planning target volume (PTV) below 90 cm3 is predictive of local control, but volumes above this are not. The GTV seems to be a better predictor of outcome: among the 17 of 19 patients treated curatively, a GTV threshold of 30 cm3 distinguished local failures from the 15 patients with local control, with sensitivity to detect local control of 100% (95% confidence interval 78–100%), specificity 100% (95% confidence interval 16–100%) and positive predictive value 100% (95% confidence interval 78–100%). Conclusions Our results show a high level of efficacy for fractionated photon radiotherapy after surgery, in keeping with other series. In addition, we found that although surgical debulking is essential, a small residual tumour volume may still be controlled with high-dose photon radiotherapy. This information may be relevant during neurosurgical planning, possibly allowing a reduction in risk of serious neurological deficits. This should encourage the further development of sophisticated photon radiotherapy, for patients unsuitable for proton therapy.