Treating Skull Base Tumours
The UMCG Radiotherapy departments treats around 50 skull base tumour patients every year.
This treatment uses state-of-the-art photon radiotherapy technology (VMAT).
As of the end of 2017, the UMCG will also be able to treat tumours using protons. In principle, this type of proton therapy can also be applied to skull base tumours.
The skull base is surrounded by large amounts of important tissue (such as the brain stem and the eyes), blood vessels, and nerves (such as optic nerves). Damage to one or more of these tissues, blood vessels, or nerves may result in serious side-effects, such as blindness.
The area around the skull base may be subject to both benign and malignant tumours.
Following extensive research, the Skull Base Working Group (SWBG) of the UMCG will provide their recommendations concerning your treatment.
Proton Therapy for Skull Base Tumours
In some cases, modern photon radiotherapy technology may be unable to safely treat skull base tumours due to the fact that too much of the important surrounding healthy tissues are exposed to large amounts of radiation, thus increasing patients’ probability of suffering serious side-effects.
Proton therapy may be a better option, since it is better able to restrict the dose in the healthy tissue and anatomical structures, thus decreasing patients’ probability of delayed side-effects.
Eligibility for Proton Therapy
Patients suffering from certain types of skull base tumours, such as chordoma or chondrosarcoma, may be eligible for proton therapy.
For other skull base tumours, the radiation plans for photon and proton radiotherapy must first be compared. If the proton treatment plan indicates lower* probabilities of permanent side-effects than the photon treatment plan, you may be eligible for proton therapy.
*National agreements on what decrease in chances of side-effects constitutes eligibility for proton therapy are currently under development.
Expected Availability in Groningen
The UMCG expects to be able to treat skull base tumour patients using proton radiotherapy as of the end of 2017, specifically at the UMC Groningen Proton Therapy Centre, part of the UMCG Radiotherapy department. Proton treatments will not be available at our remote facility in Emmen.
Until the end of 2017, skull base tumour patients cannot be treated in the Netherlands and will be referred to a proton facility abroad. The UMCG collaborates with various European centres, in particular the Westdeutsches Protonentherapie Zentrum Essen in Essen (Germany), the Heidelberger Ionstrahl-Therapiezentrum (HIT) in Heidelberg (Germany), and the Paul Scherrer Institut in Villigen (Switzerland).
Health Care Insurance Reimbursement for Proton Therapy Abroad
Proton radiation for certain types of skull base tumours (chordoma and chondrosarcoma) is eligible for reimbursement by health care insurance companies.
The following radiotherapeutic-oncologists of the Radiotherapy department specialise in the treatment of skull base tumour patients.
More information about the multidisciplinary Skull Base Working Group can be found here.