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Robert J. Rothrock, Yi Li, Eric Lis, Stephanie Lobaugh, Zhigang Zhang, Patrick McCann, Patricia Mae G. Santos, T. Jonathan Yang, Ilya Laufer, Mark H. Bilsky, Adam Schmitt, Yoshiya Yamada, and Daniel S. Higginson


To characterize the clinical outcomes when stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) alone is used to treat high-grade epidural disease without prior surgical decompression, the authors conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients treated at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center between 2014 and 2018. The authors report locoregional failure (LRF) for a cohort of 31 cases treated with hypofractionated SBRT alone for grade 2 epidural spinal cord compression (ESCC) with radioresistant primary cancer histology.


High-grade epidural disease was defined as grade 2 ESCC, which is notable for radiographic deformation of the spinal cord by metastatic disease. Kaplan-Meier survival curves and cumulative incidence functions were generated to examine the survival and incidence experiences of the sample level with respect to overall survival, LRF, and subsequent requirement of vertebral same-level surgery (SLS) due to tumor progression or fracture. Associations with dosimetric analysis were also examined.


Twenty-nine patients undergoing 31 episodes of hypofractionated SBRT alone for grade 2 ESCC between 2014 and 2018 were identified. The 1-year and 2-year cumulative incidences of LRF were 10.4% (95% CI 0–21.9) and 22.0% (95% CI 5.5–38.4), respectively. The median survival was 9.81 months (95% CI 8.12–18.54). The 1-year cumulative incidence of SLS was 6.8% (95% CI 0–16.0) and the 2-year incidence of SLS was 14.5% (95% CI 0.6–28.4). All patients who progressed to requiring surgery had index lesions at the thoracic apex (T5–7).


In carefully selected patients, treatment of grade 2 ESCC disease with hypofractionated SBRT alone offers a 1-year cumulative incidence of LRF similar to that in low-grade ESCC and postseparation surgery adjuvant hypofractionated SBRT. Use of SBRT alone has a favorable safety profile and a low cumulative incidence of progressive disease requiring open surgical intervention (14.5%).