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A new radiation therapy treatment developed for head and neck cancer patients
Date:8/17/2007

Most head-and-neck cancers that recur locally after prior full-dose conventional radiation therapy respond to Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT). These results were obtained in a Phase I/II study at the Helsinki University Hospital, Finland. The scientific director of the research program, professor Heikki Joensuu, University of Helsinki, considers the results clinically significant and very interesting. They open a new field for BNCT, since thus far BNCT has been evaluated only in the treatment of some brain tumours.

The follow-up results of 12 patients diagnosed with cancer of the head-and-neck and treated in a prospective clinical trial were reported in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology & Physics (online version available: www.redjournal.org). All patients had cancer of the head-and-neck that had recurred locally after surgery and conventional radiation therapy. Ten out of the 12 patients had substantial tumour shrinkage following BNCT, and in 7 cases the tumour disappeared completely. Adverse effects of treatment were moderate and resembled those of conventional radiation therapy.

The study has been expanded, and up to 30 subjects will now be allowed to enter the study protocol.

Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) is a form of targeted radiation treatment for cancer. It is still considered experimental. In this method a boron-containing compound (boronophenylalanine) is first infused into a peripheral vein, following which the compound accumulates in cancer tissue. Cancer is subsequently irradiated with neutrons obtained from a nuclear reactor, which causes boron atoms to split within the cancerous tissue as a result from a boron neutron capture reaction. The resulting smaller particles cause a large radiation effect within the tumour tissue, which destroys cancer cells.

The technique allows targeting of a high dosage of radiation to the tumour while al
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Contact: Professor Heikki Joensuu
heikki.joensuu@hus.fi
358-947-173-208
University of Helsinki
Source:Eurekalert

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