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Ronny L. Rotondo, Wendy Folkert, Norbert J. Liebsch, Yen-Lin E. Chen, Frank X. Pedlow, Joseph H. Schwab, Andrew E. Rosenberg, G. Petur Nielsen, Jackie Szymonifka, Al E. Ferreira, Francis J. Hornicek and Thomas F. Delaney


Spinal chordomas can have high local recurrence rates after surgery with or without conventional dose radiation therapy (RT). Treatment outcomes and prognostic factors after high-dose proton-based RT with or without surgery were assessed.


The authors conducted a retrospective review of 126 treated patients (127 lesions) categorized according to disease status (primary vs recurrent), resection (en bloc vs intralesional), margin status, and RT timing.


Seventy-one sacrococcygeal, 40 lumbar, and 16 thoracic chordomas were analyzed. Mean RT dose was 72.4 GyRBE (relative biological effectiveness). With median follow-up of 41 months, the 5-year overall survival (OS), local control (LC), locoregional control (LRC), and distant control (DC) for the entire cohort were 81%, 62%, 60%, and 77%, respectively. LC for primary chordoma was 68% versus 49% for recurrent lesions (p = 0.058). LC if treated with a component of preoperative RT was 72% versus 54% without this treatment (p = 0.113). Among primary tumors, LC and LRC were higher with preoperative RT, 85% (p = 0.019) and 79% (0.034), respectively, versus 56% and 56% if no preoperative RT was provided. Overall LC was significantly improved with en bloc versus intralesional resection (72% vs 55%, p = 0.016), as was LRC (70% vs 53%, p = 0.035). A trend was noted toward improved LC and LRC for R0/R1 margins and the absence of intralesional procedures.


High-dose proton-based RT in the management of spinal chordomas can be effective treatment. In patients undergoing surgery, those with primary chordomas undergoing preoperative RT, en bloc resection, and postoperative RT boost have the highest rate of local tumor control; among 28 patients with primary chordomas who underwent preoperative RT and en bloc resection, no local recurrences were seen. Intralesional and incomplete resections are associated with higher local failure rates and are to be avoided.

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Dilys M. Parry, Mary L. McMaster, Norbert J. Liebsch, Nicholas J. Patronas, Martha M. Quezado, Deborah Zametkin, Xiaohong R. Yang and Alisa M. Goldstein


To gain insight into the role of germline genetics in the development of chordoma, the authors evaluated data from 2 sets of patients with familial chordoma, those with and without a germline duplication of the T gene (T-dup+ vs T-dup−), which was previously identified as a susceptibility mechanism in some families. The authors then compared the patients with familial tumors to patients with sporadic chordoma in the US general population reported to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program through 2015.


Evaluation of family members included review of personal and family medical history, physical and neurological examination, and pre- and postcontrast MRI of the skull base and spine. Sixteen patients from 6 white families with chordoma had a chordoma diagnosis at family referral. Screening MR images of 35 relatives revealed clival lesions in 6, 4 of which were excised and confirmed to be chordoma. Thus, data were available for 20 patients with histologically confirmed familial chordoma. There were 1759 patients with histologically confirmed chordoma in SEER whose race was known.


The median age at chordoma diagnosis differed across the groups: it was lowest in T-dup+ familial patients (26.8 years, range 5.3–68.4 years); intermediate in T-dup− patients (46.2 years, range 11.8–60.1 years); and highest in SEER patients (57 years, range 0–98 years). There was a marked preponderance of skull base tumors in patients with familial chordoma (93% in T-dup+ and 83% in T-dup−) versus 38% in the SEER program (37% in white, 53% in black, and 48.5% in Asian/Pacific Islander/American Indian/Alaska Native patients). Furthermore, 29% of white and 16%–17% of nonwhite SEER patients had mobile-spine chordoma, versus no patients in the familial group. Several T-dup+ familial chordoma patients had putative second/multiple primary chordomas.


The occurrence of young age at diagnosis, skull base presentation, or multiple primary chordomas should encourage careful review of family history for patients diagnosed with chordoma as well as screening of at-risk family members by MRI for early detection of chordoma. Furthermore, given genetic predisposition in some patients with familial chordoma, identification of a specific mutation in a family will permit surveillance to be limited to mutation carriers—and consideration should be given for imaging the entire neuraxis in any chordoma patient presenting at an early age or with a blood relative with chordoma. Finally, future studies should explore racial differences in age at diagnosis and presenting site in chordoma.

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Markus M. Fitzek, Allan F. Thornton, James D. Rabinov, Michael H. Lev, Francisco S. Pardo, John E. Munzenrider, Paul Okunieff, Marc Bussière, Ilana Braun, Fred H. Hochberg, E. Tessa Hedley-Whyte, Norbert J. Liebsch and Griffith R. Harsh IV

Object. After conventional doses of 55 to 65 Gy of fractionated irradiation, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) usually recurs at its original location. This institutional phase II study was designed to assess whether dose escalation to 90 cobalt gray equivalent (CGE) with conformal protons and photons in accelerated fractionation would improve local tumor control and patient survival.

Methods. Twenty-three patients were enrolled in this study. Eligibility criteria included age between 18 and 70 years, Karnofsky Performance Scale score of greater than or equal to 70, residual tumor volume of less than 60 ml, and a supratentorial, unilateral tumor.

Actuarial survival rates at 2 and 3 years were 34% and 18%, respectively. The median survival time was 20 months, with four patients alive 22 to 60 months postdiagnosis. Analysis by Radiation Therapy Oncology Group prognostic criteria or Medical Research Council indices showed a 5- to 11-month increase in median survival time over those of comparable conventionally treated patients. All patients developed new areas of gadolinium enhancement during the follow-up period. Histological examination of tissues obtained at biopsy, resection, or autopsy was conducted in 15 of 23 patients. Radiation necrosis only was demonstrated in seven patients, and their survival was significantly longer than that of patients with recurrent tumor (p = 0.01). Tumor regrowth occurred most commonly in areas that received doses of 60 to 70 CGE or less; recurrent tumor was found in only one case in the 90-CGE volume.

Conclusions. A dose of 90 CGE in accelerated fractionation prevented central recurrence in almost all cases. The median survival time was extended to 20 months, likely as a result of central control. Tumors will usually recur in areas immediately peripheral to this 90-CGE volume, but attempts to extend local control by enlarging the central volume are likely to be limited by difficulties with radiation necrosis.