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Radiation therapy doubles the chances of survival of mesothelioma cancer patients

April 29, 2019 17:53 IST

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– Rajat Sharma


Washington DC [USA]The researchers stated that patients with mesothelioma are twice as likely to survive for two years when they receive a high dose of radiation to the affected side of the trunk.
The study presented at the Estro 38 meeting looked at patients whose cancers could not be completely removed with surgery and researchers say their findings have the potential to change treatment and outcomes for this group of patients.
Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive form of cancer that grows in layers of tissues around the lungs. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Patients usually only live for a year or two after diagnosis because treatment options are very limited.
"There is an urgent need for more effective treatments for mesothelioma. Surgery can be given to these patients, but it is often impossible to remove the entire tumor," said Marco Trovo, lead author of the study.
"Patients with mesothelioma sometimes receive radiotherapy to help control their symptoms. However, radiotherapy has evolved dramatically in recent years, so we wanted to see if it could now be used to prevent cancer from spreading to nearby tissue, bringing improvements in survival. Dr. Trovo.
The study involved 108 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma who were treated at the National Cancer Institute in Aviano, Italy, between 2014 and 2018. All patients underwent surgery to remove some tumor tissue, followed by chemotherapy.
Half was randomly assigned to receive radical hemorapic radiation therapy, which means that radiation was released to the left or right side of the trunk, depending on where the tumor was located.
This involved 25 treatments, giving a total dose of 50 Gy on the left or right side of the trunk, as well as an extra dose of 60 Gy for the precise location of the tumor.
The other patients received a more typical palliative form of radiotherapy. This involved five to ten treatments, providing a total dose of 20 to 30 Gy for the precise location of the tumor.
Of the patients who received aggressive radiotherapy, 58% were still alive two years later. In patients receiving palliative radiotherapy, 28% were still alive two years later.
About 20 percent of patients receiving radical hemio-thoracic radiation therapy experienced radiation pneumonitis (lung inflammation). Other side effects included weakness, nausea and mild inflammation of the esophagus.
Dr Trovo said: "This research shows a clear survival benefit in the use of this type of radiation therapy for patients with mesothelioma whose tumors can only be partially removed by surgery, and we believe this should be considered the new standard of care for these patients."
He hopes that even greater gains in survival can be made by treating patients with radiotherapy followed by targeted immunotherapy (where the body's own immune system is encouraged to fight cancer cells). (ANI)

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