This study is a multi-institutional pooled analysis specific to imaging-based local control of spinal metastases in patients previously treated with conventional external beam radiation therapy (cEBRT) and then treated with re-irradiation stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) to the spine as salvage therapy, the largest such study to date.
The authors reviewed cases involving 215 patients with 247 spinal target volumes treated at 7 institutions. Overall survival was calculated on a patient basis, while local control was calculated based on the spinal target volume treated, both using the Kaplan-Meier method. Local control was defined as imaging-based progression within the SBRT target volume. Equivalent dose in 2-Gy fractions (EQD2) was calculated for the cEBRT and SBRT course using an α/β of 10 for tumor and 2 for both spinal cord and cauda equina.
The median total dose/number of fractions of the initial cEBRT was 30 Gy/10. The median SBRT total dose and number of fractions were 18 Gy and 1, respectively. Sixty percent of spinal target volumes were treated with single-fraction SBRT (median, 16.6 Gy and EQD2/10 = 36.8 Gy), and 40% with multiple-fraction SBRT (median 24 Gy in 3 fractions, EQD2/10 = 36 Gy). The median time interval from cEBRT to re-irradiation SBRT was 13.5 months, and the median duration of patient follow-up was 8.1 months. Kaplan-Meier estimates of 6- and 12-month overall survival rates were 64% and 48%, respectively; 13% of patients suffered a local failure, and the 6- and 12-month local control rates were 93% and 83%, respectively. Multivariate analysis identified Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) < 70 as a significant prognostic factor for worse overall survival, and single-fraction SBRT as a significant predictive factor for better local control. There were no cases of radiation myelopathy, and the vertebral compression fracture rate was 4.5%.
Re-irradiation spine SBRT is effective in yielding imaging-based local control with a clinically acceptable safety profile. A randomized trial would be required to determine the optimal fractionation.