Reports of proton beam therapy (PBT) utilization for cutaneous melanoma of the head and neck (HN) region is virtually non-existent. This study reports on the efficacy and acute toxicities of PBT for primary HN cutaneous melanoma.

Materials and Methods

We queried the prospectively collected, multi-institutional Proton Collaborative Group registry for all consecutive patients with HN cutaneous melanoma receiving PBT from May 2010 to December 2019. Kaplan-Meier methods were used to estimate overall survival (OS), progression free survival (PFS), and local regional recurrence free survival (LRFS). Toxicity was reported per CTCAE version 4.0.


A total of 8 patients were identified with a median age of 69 (range, 37-88). All patients (100%) underwent surgery followed with postoperative PBT. There were 3 patients (37.5%) with T3 or T4 disease and 4 (50%) with N2 or N3 disease. The median radiation dose was 46 GyRBE (range, 27-70) and median dose per fraction was 2.4 GyRBE (range, 2.0-6.0) with the most common dose fractionation being 44 or 48 GyRBE in 20 fractions (n = 4). At a median follow-up of 40.1 months (range, 1.6-62.4) the 1 and 3 year OS rates were 85.7% and 35.7%, respectively. The median PFS was 25.40 months (95% CI, 2.53-58.70) while PFS at 1 year and 3 years was 85.7% and 35.7%, respectively. LRFS was 100% at 1 year and 85.7% at 3 years. Five of the 8 patients developed distant metastases, of which 3 received immunotherapy. Acute G2+ and G3+ toxicities occurred in 5 of 8 patients and 2 of 8 patients, respectively. G3 toxicities included radiation dermatitis (n = 1) and immunotherapy-related rash (n = 1). No G4+ toxicities were reported.


Single modality PBT for HN melanomas in the definitive setting provides effective and durable local control rates with tolerable acute toxicity. Distant failure remains the primary pattern of failure.

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