Medline: 2394621

International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 19(2): 439-444, 1990.

Reversal of cranial nerve dysfunction with radiation therapy in adults with lymphoma and leukemia.

Gray JR, Wallner KE


Twenty patients with leukemic (8) or lymphomatous (12) meningitis and cranial nerve palsies were treated with cranial irradiation at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from June 1987 through December 1988. The diagnosis of malignant meningitis was confirmed by malignant or 'suspicious' cerebrospinal fluid cytology in 13/20 patients. The 6th and 7th cranial nerves were most commonly involved. Multiple nerve involvement was present in 11/20 patients, for a total of 42 nerves affected. Treatment consisted of whole brain irradiation to a median dose of 2400 cGy (range: 1000-3000) at 200-300 cGy per fraction. Median survival was 7 months. Forty of 42 nerves improved, for an actuarial response rate of 95% at 3 months. The complete response rate was 44% and was better for patients with lymphoma than for those with leukemia (72% vs 19%, p = 0.04). Delaying initiation of irradiation more than 3 days after the onset of symptoms did not affect the ultimate response rate, but slightly increased the median time to response (9 days vs 14 days, p = 0.1). Radiation therapy is an effective means of reversing cranial nerve dysfunction in leukemia and lymphoma. Higher doses may be needed to increase the rate of complete response.

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