Glioblastoma (GBM) has the highest fatality rate among primary malignant brain tumors and typically tends to recur locally just adjacent to the original tumor site following surgical resection and adjuvant radiotherapy. We conducted a study to evaluate the survival outcomes between a standard dose (≤ 60 Gy) and moderate radiation dose escalation (>60 Gy), and to identify prognostic factors for GBM. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of primary GBM patients diagnosed between 2005 and 2016 in two referral hospitals in Taiwan. They were identified from the cancer registry database and followed up from the date of diagnosis to October 2018. The progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were compared between the two dose groups, and independent factors for survival were analyzed through Cox proportional hazard model. We also affirmed the results using Cox regression with least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) approach. From our cancer registry database, 142 GBM patients were identified, and 84 of them fit the inclusion criteria. Of the 84 patients, 52 (62%) were males. The radiation dose ranged from 50.0 Gy to 66.6 Gy, but their treatment volumes were similar to the others. Fifteen (18%) patients received an escalated dose boost >60.0 Gy. The escalated group had a longer median PFS (15.4 vs. 7.9 months, p = 0.01 for log-rank test), and a longer median OS was also longer in the escalation group (33.8 vs. 12.5 months, p <0.001) than the reference group. Following a multivariate analysis, the escalated dose was identified as a significant predictor for good prognosis (PFS: hazard ratio [HR] = 0.48, 95% confidence interval [95%CI]: 0.23–0.98; OS: HR = 0.40, 95%CI: 0.21–0.78). Using the LASSO approach, we found age > 70 (HR = 1.55), diagnosis after 2010 (HR = 1.42), and a larger radiation volume (≥ 250ml; HR = 0.81) were predictors of PFS. The escalated dose (HR = 0.47) and a larger radiation volume (HR = 0.76) were identified as predictors for better OS. Following detailed statistical analysis, a moderate radiation dose escalation (> 60 Gy) was found as an independent factor affecting OS in GBM patients. In conclusion, a moderate radiation dose escalation (> 60 Gy) was an independent predictor for longer OS in GBM patients. However, prospective studies including more patients with more information, such as molecular markers and completeness of resection, are needed to confirm our findings.
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