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Targeted heat therapy offers new standard treatment option for soft tissue sarcoma
Date:9/22/2009

children and young adults. Surgery is the primary treatment, but sometimes these tumours are difficult to remove completely, so they are often also treated with radiotherapy and sometimes chemotherapy. However, in cases where the disease is localised, the benefits of chemotherapy have been shown to be limited. In high-risk patients, any relapse usually occurs within two or three years. Survival varies widely depending on the location and severity of the tumour, with abdominal sarcomas being the most deadly.

The phase III study involved 341 patients being treated at several centres in Europe and the United States between July 1997 and November 2006 for locally advanced soft tissue sarcomas that were at high risk of recurrence and spread. More than half of the tumours were located in the abdomen, while the rest were in the arms and legs. All patients were given chemotherapy before and after surgery and radiotherapy.

Half were randomly given targeted heat treatment along with the chemotherapy. The technique, known as regional hyperthermia, uses focused electromagnetic energy to warm the tissue in and around the tumour to between 40 and 43 degrees Celsius (104 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit). The heat not only kills cancer cells, but it also seems to make chemotherapy work better by making cancer cells more sensitive. It also improves blood flow, which allows chemotherapy to be more effective.

After an average follow-up of 34 months, only 153 patients (44.9%) in total had died. The improvement in overall survival was not statistically meaningful when all patients were analysed, but an analysis of the 269 who completed the full treatment of either four cycles of initial chemotherapy alone or four chemotherapy cycles and eight heat treatments found that those who got the heat therapy were 44% less likely to die during the follow-up period than those who got chemotherapy alone.

"The patients receiving the targeted heat therapy fared better
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Contact: Emma Ross
rosswrite@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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