Definitive radiation therapy in patients with unresectable desmoid tumors: A systematic review

Tomoya Matsunobu, Toshiyuki Kunisada, Toshifumi Ozaki, Yukihide Iwamoto, Masahiro Yoshida, Yoshihiro Nishida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Desmoid tumors are rare soft tissue tumors. Wide local excision has been the standard surgical treatment for desmoid tumors. However, this procedure results in high local recurrence rates, so non-surgical treatments should be considered. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the effect of radiation therapy on patients with desmoid tumors, especially those with unresectable disease. Methods: We evaluated studies published between 1 January 1990 and 31 August 2017 and cited in PubMed and Ichushi (in Japanese). All studies evaluating the effect of radiation therapy on desmoid tumors were included. Data regarding radiation dose, recurrence and adverse events were recorded. Results: Among 218 identified studies, only 6 were finally included in this review. Local control was achieved in 253 of 317 patients with unresectable or unresected tumors who underwent definitive radiation therapy (the crude rate of local control was 79.8%). Toxicity was evaluated in patients who underwent definitive radiation therapy or surgery plus radiation therapy. One of the most common acute complications was skin toxicity. Frequent late complications of radiation therapy included fibrosis/contracture/joint stiffness, skin disorders, lymphedema and pain. Six patients developed secondary malignancies in the radiation field. Conclusions: In patients treated unsuccessfully with surgery, watchful waiting and pharmacotherapy, radiation therapy may be an option as salvage therapy because of the high rate of local control. Because desmoid tumors frequently develop in young individuals, children and young patients who receive radiation therapy for the treatment of desmoid tumors should be followed up on a long-term basis with periodic monitoring for late radiation toxicities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-573
Number of pages6
JournalJapanese journal of clinical oncology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Desmoid tumors
  • Radiation therapy
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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