Radiotherapy for nonfunctional pituitary adenoma: analysis of long-term tumor control

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Object. The authors studied outcomes in patients who had undergone radiotherapy for nonfunctional pituitary adenoma to assess long-term tumor control and to identify factors affecting tumor control such as higher radiation doses, improved imaging, and histological characteristics of the tumor.

Methods. In this retrospective study, the authors evaluated 120 patients who received radiotherapy for nonfunctional pituitary adenomas between 1960 and 1991. The median follow-up period was 9 years (range 1 month–32 years). Radiation doses varied between 37.6 and 65.6 Gy (median 46.7 Gy).

Tumors progressed in 15 of the 120 patients by 1 to 25 years after radiotherapy. Actuarial tumor control rates at 10, 20, and 30 years were 87.5 ± 3.6%, 77.6 ± 6.3%, and 64.7 ± 12.9%, respectively. Tumor progression after radiotherapy occurred significantly more often (p = 0.0397) in patients with oncocytoma than in patients with nononcocytic null cell adenoma. No other factors correlated significantly with tumor control. One case of optic and oculomotor neuropathy developed 4.5 years after a maximum dose of 50 Gy in 25 fractions. Radiation-induced neoplasms (meningioma and glioblastoma multiforme) developed at a rate of 2.7% at 10 and 30 years.

Conclusions. The oncocytic variant of null cell pituitary adenoma appears less sensitive to control by radiotherapy than nononcocytic undifferentiated cell adenoma. A follow-up period extending beyond 20 years is needed adequately to assess the efficacy of radiotherapy for tumor control. Doses of 40 or 45 Gy in 20 or 25 fractions, respectively, appear optimal.

Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: John C. Flickinger, M.D., Joint Radiation Oncology Center, 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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