(HealthDay News) — In patients with inoperable spinal tumors, carbon ion radiotherapy (CIRT) is a safe and effective treatment, according to a study published online Aug. 12 in Cancer.

Keiji Matsumoto, M.D., from the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba, Japan, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed outcomes in 47 patients with medically unresectable spinal sarcomas, excluding sacral tumors, who were treated with CIRT between 1996 and 2011.

After a median follow up of 25 months, the researchers found that median survival was 44 months. The 5-year local control rate was 79%, the overall survival rate was 52%, and the progression-free rate was 48%. There were no local recurrences among the 15 patients with tumors <100 cm³.

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There were no fatal toxicities during follow-up; two patients had a high-grade late skin reaction, seven patients had vertebral body compression, and one patient had a high-grade late spinal cord reaction. Of the 28 surviving patients with primary tumors, 22 remained ambulatory without supportive devices.

“CIRT appears to be both effective and safe for the treatment of patients with unresectable spinal sarcoma,” Matsumoto and colleagues conclude.