Radiation associated tumors following therapeutic cranial radiation

Abhineet Chowdhary, Alex M. Spence, Lindsay Sales, Robert C. Rostomily, Jason K. Rockhill, Daniel L. Silbergeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: A serious, albeit rare, sequel of therapeutic ionizing radiotherapy is delayed development of a new, histologically distinct neoplasm within the radiation field. Methods: We identified 27 cases, from a 10-year period, of intracranial tumors arising after cranial irradiation. The original lesions for which cranial radiation was used for treatment included: tinea capitis (1), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL; 5), sarcoma (1), scalp hemangioma (1), cranial nerve schwannoma (1) and primary (13) and metastatic (1) brain tumors, pituitary tumor (1), germinoma (1), pinealoma (1), and unknown histology (1). Dose of cranial irradiation ranged from 1800 to 6500 cGy, with a mean of 4596 cGy. Age at cranial irradiation ranged from 1 month to 43 years, with a mean of 13.4 years. Results: Latency between radiotherapy and diagnosis of a radiation-induced neoplasm ranged from 4 to 47 years (mean 18.8 years). Radiation-induced tumors included: meningiomas (14), sarcomas (7), malignant astrocytomas (4), and medulloblastomas (2). Data were analyzed to evaluate possible correlations between gender, age at irradiation, dose of irradiation, latency, use of chemotherapy, and radiation-induced neoplasm histology. Significant correlations existed between age at cranial irradiation and development of either a benign neoplasm (mean age 8.5 years) versus a malignant neoplasm (mean age 20.3; P = 0.012), and development of either a meningioma (mean age 7.0 years) or a sarcoma (mean age 27.4 years; P = 0.0001). There was also a significant positive correlation between latency and development of either a meningioma (mean latency 21.8 years) or a sarcoma (mean latency 7.7 years; P = 0.001). The correlation between dose of cranial irradiation and development of either a meningioma (mean dose 4128 cGy) or a sarcoma (mean dose 5631 cGy) approached significance (P = 0.059). Conclusions: Our study is the first to show that younger patients had a longer latency period and were more likely to have lower-grade lesions (e.g. meningiomas) as a secondary neoplasm, while older patients had a shorter latency period and were more likely to have higher-grade lesions (e.g. sarcomas).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number96068
JournalSurgical Neurology International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Radiation effects
  • radiotherapy
  • secondary brain tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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