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Initial clinical experience with scanned proton beams at the Italian National Center for Hadrontherapy (CNAO).


We report the initial toxicity data with scanned proton beams at the Italian National Center for Hadrontherapy (CNAO). In September 2011, CNAO commenced patient treatment with scanned proton beams within two prospective Phase II protocols approved by the Italian Health Ministry. Patients with chondrosarcoma or chordoma of the skull base or spine were eligible. By October 2012, 21 patients had completed treatment. Immobilization was performed using rigid non-perforated thermoplastic-masks and customized headrests or body-pillows as indicated. Non-contrast CT scans with immobilization devices in place and MRI scans in supine position were performed for treatment-planning. For chordoma, the prescribed doses were 74 cobalt grey equivalent (CGE) and 54 CGE to planning target volume 1 (PTV1) and PTV2, respectively. For chondrosarcoma, the prescribed doses were 70 CGE and 54 CGE to PTV1 and PTV2, respectively. Treatment was delivered five days a week in 35-37 fractions. Prior to treatment, the patients' positions were verified using an optical tracking system and orthogonal X-ray images. Proton beams were delivered using fixed-horizontal portals on a robotic couch. Weekly MRI incorporating diffusion-weighted-imaging was performed during the course of proton therapy. Patients were reviewed once weekly and acute toxicities were graded with the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE). Median age of patients = 50 years (range, 21-74). All 21 patients completed the proton therapy without major toxicities and without treatment interruption. Median dose delivered was 74 CGE (range, 70-74). The maximum toxicity recorded was CTCAE Grade 2 in four patients. Our preliminary data demonstrates the clinical feasibility of scanned proton beams in Italy.