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Researchers discover how to overcome poor response to radiotherapy caused by low haemoglobin levels
Date:5/11/2012

Barcelona, Spain: Patients with head and neck cancer and a low haemoglobin (Hb) level do not respond well to radiotherapy and therefore both control of their tumour and disease-free survival are compromised. Now researchers from The Netherlands have found that the problems caused by low Hb in these patients can be overcome by the use of a treatment known as ARCON therapy, in which accelerated radiotherapy is combined with carbogen (a mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen) and the water-soluble vitamin nicotinamide [1].

Hans Kaanders, a professor of translational radiation oncology at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, will tell the 31st conference of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology [2] today (Friday) that the ARCON regime is the first to show a positive effect in patients with low Hb levels.

The researchers recruited 345 patients with squamous cell laryngeal cancer to a randomised trial: 174 received only accelerated radiotherapy (where two fractions per day are administered during the last week of radiotherapy in order to reduce the overall length of treatment), and 171 ARCON. Patients receiving ARCON inhaled carbogen during radiotherapy and took nicotinamide tablets prior to treatment. Pre-treatment Hb levels in the experimental group were measured and subsequently compared with the treatment outcomes in the accelerated radiotherapy alone arm.

They found that patients treated with accelerated radiotherapy alone who had normal Hb levels before treatment had significantly better control of the cancer at its primary site (76% as opposed to 56%), disease-free survival (72% and 48% respectively), and metastasis-free survival (90% and 70%) than those with low Hb levels.

"However, when we looked at the ARCON group, in cases where the patients had low Hb levels before treatment, we found that ARCON improved control of the cancer at its primary site, and improved disease-free and metastasis-fre
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

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