CSI irradiation is a challenging treatment, not only due to patient age but also because of the many challenges of its practical application. While planning 3D conformal radiotherapy, it is difficult to align the entire cranial irradiation with the field treating the spine and to align the spinal fields with each other. The cranial field is usually covered by two lateral fields, while the spinal fields consist of single posterior fields. The development of “hot spots”, dose inhomogeneities, increases at the alignment points, thus increasing the risk of overdosing [8,9,10,11]. Sebestyén et al. demonstrated the technique used on eight patients at their institute to avoid overdosing. By using segments in the field, no overdosed areas developed at the points of field alignment . This may be reduced by using the intensity modulate technique (IMRT) . Using the IMRT, Kuster et al. managed to decrease the homogeneous dose distribution while increasing coverage of the target area and protection of the organs at risk .
With further advancements in radiotherapeutic techniques and planning options and with volumetric arc therapy (VMAT) becoming increasingly widespread, it became necessary to study how much gentler this treatment modality is compared to conventional stationary field IMRT. Rolina et al. analyzed the plans of ten patients. They improved the coverage of the target area by using the VMAT technique; however, this did not result in significant differences. No remarkable differences were seen in terms of the exposure doses of the organs at risk between the two techniques . These results were supported by other studies conducted at other institutes [16,17,18]. In the SIOP-E-BTG group study, the same cases were sent to 15 institutes for planning to compile the best 3D-CRT, IMRT, VMAT and proton therapeutic plans. The modern radiotherapeutic techniques resulted in improvements in dose conformity and dose homogeneity compared to 3D-CRT. The dose exposure of organs at risk also improved; however, significant differences were only obtained with proton therapy .
Hideghéty et al. assessed the benefits and disadvantages of prone and supine patient positioning in 12 patients. No differences were observed regarding dose homogeneity or coverage. However, the supine position was more advantageous in terms of patient comfort and achieving a simple treatment .
The side effects of the treatment may be acute or delayed. In the current study, we essentially dealt with the acute side effects and sought an explanation for their development. While using IMRT and other modern techniques in the St. Claire study, the dose limits of organs at risk were not approached compared to 3D-CRT; thus, they believed that the side effects may decrease . During the prospective study of Cox conducted between 2010 and 2014, acute side effects were analyzed in ten patients. Gastrointestinal side effects, such as vomiting and diarrhea, occurred predominantly during the treatments. However, these side effects are well tolerated with appropriate supportive care, unlike the significantly more therapy-resistant side effects of alopecia and headache . As an effect of dose modulation during IMRT, the dose delivered towards the abdominal organs is well controllable; therefore, the side effects are also more tolerable . In the HIT-91 study, according to the description of Kortman et al., treatment interruptions became necessary due to the occurrence of myelosuppressive side effects. Notable (> grade 3) myelosuppression was seen in 35% of patients who received chemotherapeutic regimens before and after their radiotherapy and in 19.3% of patients who only received maintenance therapy. The hematological side effects were especially prolonged in young adults. By eliminating the direct field, the dose of the sternum - an organ at risk - was successfully reduced by 57% using IMRT . This was also supported by our results, as the dose for the sternum was 2299/1156 cGy. We demonstrated the safety of rotating field arc radiation therapy, with no remarkable myelosuppressive side effects observed.
The acute side effect of bone marrow suppression is typical during treatment. The work of Sung Zong-Wen outlined that a large area of tissue is affected by a relatively low dose during VMAT. In addition, the main side effect in treated patients was hematological toxicity, which did not exceed the decrease beyond the grade (Gr) 3 value . Wong et al. observed hematological toxicity of the following magnitude in 14 patients during VMAT. Leukopenia Gr 2: 11%, Gr 3: 26%, Gr 4: 63%, Anemia Gr 2: 89%, Thrombocytopenia Gr 1–2: 16%, Gr 3: 26%, and Gr 4: 37% . Kumar et al. conducted a study involving four institutes between 2011 and 2014 that analyzed the hematological causes of therapy discontinuation in 52 patients. Treatment was discontinued if a grade 2 side effect developed and was continued if grade 1 side effects appeared. Irradiation of the spine had to be interrupted in 73.1% of patients due to leukopenia in 92% of cases and thrombocytopenia in 2.6% of cases, while both were responsible in 5.3% of cases . In our study, we encountered milder side effects both in the 3D conformal arm and the IMRT/ARC arm.
Salloum et al. processed mortality and morbidity data from patients treated for medulloblastomas between 1970 and 1999; thus, these data covered three decades. The median time from diagnosis in the 1311 enrolled patients was 21 years. The 15-year mortality rates were 23.2 and 12.8% in patients treated in the 70 s and 90 s, respectively; the mortality rates due to recurrence were 17.7 and 9.6%, respectively . Altogether, the role of advancing and developing techniques was highlighted; we also set a similar objective for our study. Similarly, good results were achieved using these advanced techniques during the follow-up of our patients. Although the overall survival curves in our study developed in a very similar way, only a trend can be suggested. This result is a consequence of the low number of patients. Our study has some limitations due to the very small sample size and heterogeneity of the cohort.