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Gauging the Impact of Radiotherapy

Maximizing the impact of a mesothelioma treatment protocol is the goal of researchers and physicians alike, and a new study being done in the United Kingdom aims to determine the effectiveness of prophylactic radiotherapy provided immediately after surgery for minimizing the occurrence of tumors along the surgeon’s incision path. Radiation has been used on a regular basis over the last several years, but its efficacy has never been universally accepted. That’s why scientists from the University of Bristol School of Science have designed a study that will follow over 200 new mesothelioma patients over the next twelve months.

Lead researcher Dr. Nick Maskell says, “This will answer the question, ‘Is prophylactic radiotherapy of benefit to patients with large biopsy or chest wall incision sites in mesothelioma? This is the first, properly powered study to answer that question.”

In many cases, post surgical radiotherapy is used to reduce the risk of a painful condition called Procedural Tract Metastases. It is characterized by pain and regrowth of mesothelioma tumors along the surgical path. It is hoped that the radiotherapy will kill the mesothelioma cells in the same way that studies have shown that it does in the laboratory, but there is a difference in the dosage being administered in the lab then on live patients after surgery. Doses are reduced to avoid radiation toxicity, but this may reduce effectiveness. “We genuinely don’t know what to expect now,” Maskell said. “As a properly run randomized clinical trial, we have no idea until the results are unblinded.”
He expects the study to be completed by the end of the summer of 2015.

The blind study that he refers to will consist of patients who will either receive radiotherapy immediately after surgery or only after Procedural Tract Metastases appears. Those who will receive the radiotherapy will be treated within 35 days of their pleural procedure. The researchers will determine how many of the mesothelioma patients are diagnoses with the condition over the next twelve months or until they die, whichever comes first. They will also gauge variables such as side effects exhibited to the radiotherapy, pain, and quality of life.The study will be administered at several different United Kingdom cancer centers, with “the primary research question to evaluate whether prophylactic radiotherapy prevents PTM following large bore pleural precedes in MPM.”

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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