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Targeted Radiation Therapy Safe, Effective Treatment for Elderly with Pancreatic Cancer
Date:9/24/2013

elect number of those patients, however, are not candidates for surgery due to having other co-morbidities such as COPD, heart disease and diabetes. This leaves only chemotherapy and radiation, or a combination of the two, available for treatment.

But for a large portion of elderly patients with localized pancreatic cancer even chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not options.

The Henry Ford study looked to determine if SBRT – a method of giving radiation that can be highly targeted to the tumor, sparing the normal tissue around it – was a viable option for this group of patients. SBRT provides a higher dose of radiation, meaning patients have fewer treatments. In this case, treatment averaged two weeks.

The study included 20 patients with a median age of 83, all of whom were medically unable to tolerate surgery or combined chemo-radiation therapy. The majority of patients in the study (90 percent) received SBRT treatment at the time of diagnosis.

Seven patients reported side-effects from treatment: nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

Among the patients: 13 had a recurrence of cancer; nine had cancer spread from the original tumor to distant organs or distant lymph nodes.

Median overall survival was 6.7 months, and median recurrence-free survival was 8.1 months. At six months post-treatment, 61 percent of patients were alive; two patients in the study survived nearly two years.

“National trends tell us that very few patients over the age of 75 are getting any treatment at all for pancreatic cancer due to comorbidity risks,” notes Dr. Yechieli. “So we want to push the envelope to give them a treatment option that, while not a cure, is short, effective and safe, and has the potential to give them a good quality of life.”

The next step in this research, Dr. Yechieli says, is to closely follow patients after SBRT and get their direct feedback to measure post-treatment quality of life.

Along with Dr.
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