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Radiation treatment of benign tumors in NF2-related-schwannomatosis: A national study of 266 irradiated patients showing a significant increase in malignancy/malignant progression

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Evans, D Gareth 
Halliday, Dorothy 
Obholzer, Rupert 
Afridi, Shazia 
Forde, Claire 


Background: Radiation treatment of benign tumors in tumor predisposition syndromes is controversial, but short-term studies from treatment centers suggest safety despite apparent radiation-associated malignancy being reported. We determined whether radiation treatment in NF2-related schwannomatosis patients is associated with increased rates of subsequent malignancy (M)/malignant progression (MP). Methods: All UK patients with NF2 were eligible if they had a clinical/molecular diagnosis. Cases were NF2 patients treated with radiation for benign tumors. Controls were matched for treatment location with surgical/medical treatments based on age and year of treatment. Prospective data collection began in 1990 with addition of retrospective cases in 1969. Kaplan–Meier analysis was performed for malignancy incidence and survival. Outcomes were central nervous system (CNS) M/MP (2cm annualized diameter growth) and survival from index tumor treatment. Results: In total, 1345 NF2 patients, 266 (133-Male) underwent radiation treatments between 1969 and 2021 with median first radiotherapy age of 32.9 (IQR = 22.4–46.0). Nine subsequent CNS malignancies/MPs were identified in cases with only 4 in 1079 untreated (P < .001). Lifetime and 20-year CNS M/MP was ~6% in all irradiated patients—(4.9% for vestibular schwannomas [VS] radiotherapy) versus <1% in the non-irradiated population (P < .001/.01). Controls were well matched for age at NF2 diagnosis and treatment (Males = 133%–50%) and had no M/MP in the CNS post-index tumor treatment (P = .0016). Thirty-year survival from index tumor treatment was 45.62% (95% CI = 34.0–56.5) for cases and 66.4% (57.3–74.0) for controls (P = .02), but was nonsignificantly worse for VS radiotherapy. Conclusion: NF2 patients should not be offered radiotherapy as first-line treatment of benign tumors and should be given a frank discussion of the potential 5% excess absolute risk of M/MP.


Funder: Dame Eleanor Peel Trust, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the BMA Foundation

Funder: NHS


NF2, MPNST, Radiotherapy, malignant transformation, schwannoma

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Neuro-Oncology Advances

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Oxford University Press
NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (IS-BRC-1215-20007)
Cancer Research UK ACED Alliance Early Detection Centre (C19941/A27859)