There is a new, state-of-the-art radiotherapy technique known as VMAT, or volumetric modulated arc therapy, and it is being highly praised for its ability to offer mesothelioma patients a more targeted approach to post-surgery radiation treatments.
The new technique was specifically engineered to provide a highly targeted dose of radiation into a tumor without the risk of harming healthy tissue in close proximity. The innovative new technology allows either an individual radiation beam or several to sweep around the patient’s body.
This is in contrast to other forms of radiation, such as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which isn’t as easily customized. It also takes more time to administer.
One of the biggest advantages of the VMAT approach being hailed by researchers involves the air cavities that are often left behind in mesothelioma patients following surgery to remove tumors. The VMAT does not appear to be as confounded by these air cavities as do other types of radiation.
The mesothelioma studies of this new technique were done at Hiroshima University Hospital in Japan, where fifteen patients were offered VMAT radiotherapy after having undergone extra pleural pneumonectomies.
The patients, all men with a median age of 67, represented varying stages of illness. About half were diagnosed with either Stage 1 or Stage II mesothelioma with minimal lymph node involvement, while the other half were diagnosed with a more advanced Stage III condition.
The group was followed for a year, and nearly a third were found to be completely free of mesothelioma during that time. Over half showed no tumor growth and none of them died from the VMAT.
Three people exhibited pneumonitis, a serious side effect of the treatment. As is commonly the case in mesothelioma studies, the patients who exhibited the best results were those whose mesothelioma had been identified as being of the epithelioid variety.
The group’s research was recorded in the Journal of Radiation Research, and Dr. Tomoki Kimura and his colleagues deemed the new approach safe and effective for mesothelioma patients after EPP.
This is not the first study to reach that conclusion. In 2013 a Swiss study called VMAT “the most stable technique in regard to post surgical air cavity variation” for patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.