Proton beam irradiation was used to treat human retinoblastoma (Y-79 cell line) grown subcutaneously in the athymic "nude" mouse. Thirty-four tumors were included in the experimental groups, of which twenty-three were irradiated and eleven served as controls. Tumors were irradiated with protons produced at the 160 megavolts Harvard cyclotron. The dose delivered to the tumor ranged from 7.5 to 27.5 proton gray in a single treatment, and 25.0 proton gray delivered in two fractions separated by 24 hours. Reduction of tumor growth was significantly greater than controls (p less than 0.001) with treatment doses greater than or equal to 17.5 proton gray. Histologic examination revealed a marked decrease of mitotic activity in all specimens examined 48 hours after treatment at these higher doses. Total regression without evidence of remaining malignant cells was noted in three tumors treated at 17.5 proton gray or above. Our results indicate that human retinoblastoma in a murine host, with a tumor mass similar to that seen in a clinical setting, is sensitive to radiation by high energy protons.
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