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  • Author or Editor: Roman O. Kowalchuk x
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Roman O. Kowalchuk, Michael R. Waters, K. Martin Richardson, Kelly Spencer, James M. Larner, William H. McAllister, Jason P. Sheehan, and Charles R. Kersh


This study evaluated a large cohort of patients treated with stereotactic body radiation therapy for spinal metastases and investigated predictive factors for local control, local progression-free survival (LPFS), overall survival, and pain response between the different spinal regions.


The study was undertaken via retrospective review at a single institution. Patients with a tumor metastatic to the spine were included, while patients with benign tumors or primary spinal cord cancers were excluded. Statistical analysis involved univariate analysis, Cox proportional hazards analysis, the Kaplan-Meier method, and machine learning techniques (decision-tree analysis).


A total of 165 patients with 190 distinct lesions met all inclusion criteria for the study. Lesions were distributed throughout the cervical (19%), thoracic (43%), lumbar (19%), and sacral (18%) spines. The most common treatment regimen was 24 Gy in 3 fractions (44%). Via the Kaplan-Meier method, the 24-month local control was 80%. Sacral spine lesions demonstrated decreased local control (p = 0.01) and LPFS (p < 0.005) compared with those of the thoracolumbar spine. The cervical spine cases had improved local control (p < 0.005) and LPFS (p < 0.005) compared with the sacral spine and trended toward improvement relative to the thoracolumbar spine. The 36-month local control rates for cervical, thoracolumbar, and sacral tumors were 86%, 73%, and 44%, respectively. Comparably, the 36-month LPFS rates for cervical, thoracolumbar, and sacral tumors were 85%, 67%, and 35%, respectively. A planning target volume (PTV) > 50 cm3 was also predictive of local failure (p = 0.04). Fewer cervical spine cases had disease with PTV > 50 cm3 than the thoracolumbar (p = 5.87 × 10−8) and sacral (p = 3.9 × 10−3) cases. Using decision-tree analysis, the highest-fidelity models for predicting pain-free status and local failure demonstrated the first splits as being cervical and sacral location, respectively.


This study presents a novel risk stratification for local failure and LPFS by spinal region. Patients with metastases to the sacral spine may have decreased local control due to increased PTV, especially with a PTV of > 50 cm3. Multidisciplinary care should be emphasized in these patients, and both surgical intervention and radiotherapy should be strongly considered.