New Medical Study About Mesothelioma Treatment Shows Benefit Of Radiation Therapy Prior To Surgical Procedure

In January 2014 there was some apparent good news regarding how one might medically treat individuals who have developed mesothelioma.

In short, a recent article published by the Journal of Thoracic Oncology suggests that the treatment of mesothelioma with radiation before there is any surgery done can increase survival time in some instances.

From a January 20, 2014 news report, “Radiation Before Surgery More Than Doubles Mesothelioma Survival”:

“The patients in our study experienced shorter treatment, fewer complications and speedier recovery,” says [Dr. John Cho, radiation oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network (UHN)]. “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.

“It was imperative to do the surgery quickly because the lung is particularly sensitive to radiation toxicity,” says thoracic surgeon Dr. Marc de Perrot [an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto and also leads the Toronto Mesothelioma Research Program], also an author of the study….

“These research results offer real hope to mesothelioma patients who have too often been told in the past that they may have only six months to live,” says Dr. de Perrot….

Since the study, Drs. Cho and de Perrot have used the SMART approach to successfully treat 20 more patients.

We are encouraged by this recent medical journal report about radiation followed by surgery as a new method for mesothelioma treatment, and we will watch for further developments as regards this SMART approach pioneered by Dr. Cho and Dr. de Perrot.

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