Research: Smaller radiation fields can effectively treat aggressive brain tumors

Published on January 11, 2013 at 1:56 AM · No Comments

New research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that patients suffering from aggressive brain tumors can be effectively treated with smaller radiation fields to spare the rest of the brain and preserve cognition.

"For patients with glioblastoma, we now know we can safely and effectively treat them with smaller radiation fields to spare the rest of their normal brain," said lead investigator Michael D. Chan, M.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology at Wake Forest Baptist. "That's important because it lessens the symptoms from radiation toxicity like tiredness and nausea."

Chan said that a patient's cognition is related to how much normal brain is irradiated so focusing radiation on smaller areas of the brain may help preserve cognition and does not seem to lead to an increase in the likelihood of the tumor recurring. Overall, while long-term survival rates for glioblastoma multiforme patients have not improved by much with treatment advances, the ability to treat with smaller radiation fields preserves cognition and provides the possibility of better quality of life.

Recent research findings from Chan and colleagues appeared online last month ahead of print in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology. While there have been other similar studies, this one is the largest to compare smaller radiation margins to larger ones to document differences in patterns of failure for patients, Chan said. For this retrospective study, records for 161 patients treated at Wake Forest Baptist over the last 10 years were reviewed.

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