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Groundbreaking cancer studies to be unveiled at ASTRO annual meeting

The following are highlights of new cancer research being presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's (ASTRO) 50th Annual Meeting on September 21-25, 2008, in Boston.

For full copies of the studies and press releases, contact Beth Bukata at or Nicole Napoli at Studies are embargoed until the time of presentation or unless otherwise stated.

Three Week Radiation Therapy as Effective as Five Weeks for Early-stage Breast Cancer
Early-stage breast cancer patients who receive a more intensive course of radiation to their whole breast over three weeks is as effective as the standard, less intensive five-week whole breast radiation and offers patients more convenience at a lower cost, thereby providing a better quality of life, according to a randomized, long-term study presented at the plenary session on September 22, 2008

One Week Radiation Effective Breast Cancer Treatment
Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) using a type of radiation seed implants called balloon brachytherapy, a newer type of radiation treatment that offers more convenience to early-stage breast cancer patients by shortening radiation therapy from the standard six to seven weeks of treatment to only one week, is as effective in keeping breast cancer from coming back as the standard external beam radiation treatment, according to a study presented at the plenary September 22, 2008

Proton Therapy Lowers Chance of Later Cancers Compared To Standard Radiation Treatment
Patients who are treated with proton therapy (a specialized type of external beam radiation therapy using protons rather than X-rays to treat cancer) decreases the risk of patients developing a secondary cancer by two-fold, compared to being treated with standard photon radiation treatment, according to a first-of-its-kind study presented September 22, 2008

Severe Stress More Common Among Long-term Cancer Survivors
Long-term survivors of adult cancers are almost twice as likely to report psychological distress severe enough to cause moderate to serious problems functioning in social, work or school situations, compared to the general population, according to a large, national study presented September 24, 2008, (embargo lifts Tuesday, September 23, 2008, at 8 a.m.)

Radiation Before Surgery Reduces Quality of Life and the Risk of Recurrence for Rectal Cancer Patients
The use of a short one-week course of radiation before surgery for rectal cancer leads to a reduced risk of recurrence but with some impairment in quality of life for sexual and bowel function, according to an international study presented at the plenary session on September 22, 2008

Cancer Patients Experience Increased Risk of Learning and Memory Problems When Whole Brain Radiation Added to Radiosurgery
Cancer patients with tumors that have spread to the brain (brain metastases) who undergo stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and whole brain radiation have more than double the risk of developing learning and memory problems, compared to those who only have stereotactic radiosurgery, according to a randomized study presented at the session on September 22, 2008

Hormone Therapy Before Radiation Seed Implants for Prostate Cancer May Shorten Life for Older Patients
Men over 70 years of age with early-stage prostate cancer have 20 percent higher mortality if they are treated first with hormone therapy before being treated with radiation seed implants (brachytherapy), compared to men who are treated with brachytherapy alone, according to the largest cohort study of its kind presented September 23, 2008

Acupuncture Reduces Side Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment As Much As Conventional Drug Therapy
Acupuncture is as effective and longer-lasting in managing the common debilitating side effects of hot flashes, night sweats, and excessive sweating (vasomotor symptoms) associated with breast cancer treatment and has no treatment side effects compared to conventional drug therapy, according to a first-of-its-kind study presented September 24, 2008, (embargo lifts Tuesday, September 23, 2008, at 9 a.m.)

New Web Site Helps Doctors and Prostate Cancer Patients Make Better Treatment Choices
Doctors have created a free online computer tool, the CaP Calculator, that provides cancer specialists access to the latest prostate cancer research and helps them better individiualize each patient's treatment options, according to a study presented in a scientific session on September, 23, 2008

Medicare HMO Costs Keep Cancer Patients Out of Clinical Trials
The number of newly-diagnosed cancer patients age 65 and older who are enrolled in Medicare's Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans has increased by 6 percent among the study sites within the past four years and is shown to limit patients' participation in clinical trials because they cannot afford the plan's out-of-pocket expense, according to a first-of-its-kind study presented September 23, 2008

Quality Assurance Programs Improve Clinical Trials
Quality assurance programs like the one at the Quality Assurance Review Center (QARC) in Worcester, Mass., strengthen the quality of clinical trials, including cooperative groups conducting National Cancer Institute-supported clinical trials, thereby improving the standard of care in cancer patients, according to a study presented September 21, 2008


Contact: Nicole Napoli
American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology

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