Results of clinical research that treated mesothelioma with radiation before surgery show the three-year survival rate more than doubled for study participants afflicted with this deadly disease, compared to treating with surgery first.
The findings, published online today ahead of print in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (DOI 10.1097/JTO.0000000000000078), chart a viable route to treat patients more effectively and also improve their quality of life and potential survival, says principal investigator and lead author Dr. John Cho, radiation oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network (UHN). Dr. Cho is also an Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Toronto.
"The patients in our study experienced shorter treatment, fewer complications and speedier recovery," says Dr. Cho. "The three-year survival rate more than doubled to 72% from 32%." Mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy that starts in the lining of the lung and progressively restricts and invades the whole organ.
The study assessed a new approach dubbed SMART - Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy - and was completed over four years with 25 patients who had radiation therapy at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and surgery at Toronto General Hospital, both part of UHN.
Participants were treated with an accelerated, five-day course of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), a specialized technique that conforms the radiation dose around the tumours in 3D while sparing the heart, spine and other healthy tissues. The patients underwent surgery to remove the affected lung the following week.