Italian Study Shows Significant Impact of Radiation Therapy on Mesothelioma

Though radiation therapy was once in doubt as an effective treatment modality in treating malignant mesothelioma, recent breakthroughs in the technology have led to renewed optimism for its use, and this optimism is being backed up by research conducted by physicians at the University Hospital of Udine, Italy which was recently presented at the ESTRO (European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology) 38 conference that is currently going on in Milan, Italy.

Study tests targeted, increased radiotherapy dosing

According to Dr. Marco Trovo MD, chief of the Radiation Oncology Department at University Hospital of Udine, Italy, he and his colleagues determined that patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma were twice as likely to survive for two years or longer when treated with high doses of radiation targeting the side of the body where the original tumors were diagnosed. Their research specifically identified 108 malignant pleural mesothelioma patients whose tumors had not been able to be completely removed surgically. All had undergone surgery and had some cancerous tissue removed, and all had received chemotherapy. Following this, half were randomly chosen to receive the targeted radiotherapy via 25 separate treatments, with a total dose of 50Gy, as well as an additional 60 Gy dose specifically focused on the tumor location itself. The other half of the patients received five to ten treatments with a total of 20-30 Gy, focused only on the tumor site. This represented the more typical delivery of radiation, which is generally provided for palliative purposes.

Radiotherapy treatment significantly improves survival

In reviewing the difference between the two groups, Dr. Trovo and his colleagues found that the mesothelioma patients who had received the more aggressive treatment lived significantly longer than those who had received the typical palliative radiotherapy treatment, with 58% of those receiving the greater dose alive two years after surgery and only 28% of the palliative group alive in that same time span. They believe that the approach helps prevent the cancer from metastasizing to nearby tissue. Twenty percent of the group that received the more aggressive treatment did suffer radiation pneumonitis and other mild side effects, but the researchers were extremely enthusiastic about their results, with Dr. Trovo saying,  “This research shows a clear survival benefit in using this type of radiotherapy for mesothelioma patients whose tumors can only partially be removed by surgery. We believe that this should be considered the new standard of care for these patients.” He also expressed optimism that the same type of effect can be seen by using radiotherapy after targeted immunotherapy treatment.

The results of this mesothelioma study will have a far-reaching impact for those diagnosed with the rare and fatal form of cancer, and may significantly extend survival times. For information on other research and resources, contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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