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Targeted radiation therapy can control limited cancer spread
Date:8/12/2008

the 19 tumors treated with 30 gray, and to 83 percent for the six tumors treated with 36 gray.

"This suggests that the initial doses were too low," said Salama. "We have seen improved response rates with higher radiation doses without an increase in side effects yet."

Typical treatment doses for a patient with breast cancer, for example, are in the range of 50 to 60 gray, spread over 20-30 sessions. The trend however, is toward delivering higher doses in fewer sessions.

Patients tolerated the treatment, the authors write, with "limited difficulty." All had some fatigue but few had serious side effects. The most severe included one patient being treated for abdominal tumors who developed vomiting that required hospitalization. One lung cancer patient developed a severe cough. One patient had gastrointenstinal bleeding three months after treatment that required blood transfusion and laser treatment.

Crucial to this approach is careful patient selection, distinguishing between patients who have a treatable number of tumors and those who have widespread metastasis, including multiple tumors too small to detect. Currently, there are no known genetic "signatures" to differentiate between widespread cancer versus oligometastasis, the authors point out. This is one area of active research. Only five of the 29 patients treated so far, however, had tumor progression in more than five sites.

The technique could also be applied after chemotherapy, the authors suggest, in cases where the drugs had eliminated most the smaller cancer, leaving only a few larger tumors behind.

The trial is still underway. "We now have about 50 patients," said Weichselbaum, "and several of them remain disease-free, one of them three years after treatment."


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Contact: John Easton
john.easton@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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