Minimising side effects in chemotherapy and radiotherapy could help prolong life for brain cancer patients

Reducing the neurological side effects of chemoradiation may be the key in improving patient survival, according to a new study from the Kimmel Cancer Centre at Jefferson, in Philadelphia.

Researchers have discovered that the early side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, such as fatigue and short-term memory loss, are significantly related with later side effects and overall patient survival, as those who did not suffer severe side effects lived longer than those who did.

These finding suggest the important part which normal tissue damage, which causes the side effects, plays in determining long-term survival, and shows that minimizing side-effects could help prolong the lives of some patients.

Dr Yaacov Richard Lawrence, assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, said: "It is generally considered that the only way to improve survival in malignant brain tumours is to more effectively attack the tumour. Fascinatingly, our research suggests that damage to surrounding normal tissue may also play a role in determining a patient's long term outcome."

Almost 3,000 patients took part in the research.

Around 4,500 people are diagnosed with brain tumours every year in the UK.

Posted by Edward Bartel

1. Lawrence, Y R et al."Early toxicity predicts long-term survival in high-grade glioma." British Journal of Cancer. 12th April 2011.

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