A review of californium‐252 neutron brachytherapy for cervical cancer

Yosh Maruyama, John R. van Nagell, Justine Yoneda, Elvis S. Donaldson, Holly H. Gallion, Deborah Powell, Richard J. Kryscio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Since 1976 a clinical trial has been conducted to test the feasibility, the potential, and to develop methods for using the neutron‐emitting radioactive isotope, californium‐252 (Cf‐252), for the treatment of cervical cancer. A total of 218 patients were treated in the initial study period from 1976 until 1983. The trials initially treated advanced (Stages III and IV) cervical cancer patients using different doses and schedules; they were extended to include unfavorable presentations of Stages I and II because of favorable results in the initial trials. The authors began to treat patients with Stage IB bulky or barrel‐shaped tumors and the majority were treated with both radiation and hysterectomy. Actuarial survival was determined for Stage IB disease and was 87% at 5 years and 82% at 10 years. For those tested with preoperative radiation it was 92% at 5 and 87% at 10 years. For Stage II, it was 62% 5 years and 61% at 10. Survival 5 years after combined radiation and surgical therapy for Stage II disease was 68%. For Stage III, it was 33% at 5 years and 25% at 10. However, 5‐year survival using the early neutron implant was 46% versus approximately 19% for delayed Cf‐252 or cesium 137. Different schedules and sequences of neutrons and photons greatly altered outcome. Neutron treatment before external photon therapy was better for all stages of disease. Only about 5% of all patients developed complications after neutron therapy. No hematologic or mesenchymal second tumors were observed. Neutron brachytherapy was found to be very effective for producing rapid response and greatly improved local control of bulky, barrel, or advanced cervical cancers. The clinical trial identified and evolved schedules, doses, doses per session, and developed methods different from standard photon therapy but highly effective for local control and cure of cervical cancers of all stages. Clinical and radiobiologic understanding for the use of neutron therapy was greatly advanced by this trial. Future trials will focus on patients with advanced disease and will require evaluation of adjuvant chemotherapy studies and neutron‐enhancing chemicals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1197
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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