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Cancer Channel
Reported December 15, 2010

New Radiation Treatment for Elderly People with Cancer

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – A new type of targeted radiation therapy, stereotactic radiation therapy, is just as good as surgery for patients 75 and older with early-stage lung cancer, according to this study.
 
In this study, researchers compared two treatments for early lung cancer in elderly patients: surgery and stereotactic radiation. Surgery has been the standard treatment for decades, but some oncologists now feel that stereotactic radiation may be equally good. It’s being studied in trials around the world.
 
Stereotactic radiation therapy, sometimes called radiosurgery, refers to a single or several targeted radiation therapy treatments. Brand names for stereotactic radiation include Axesse, CyberKnife, Gamma Knife, Novalis, Primatom, Synergy, X-Knife, TomoTherapy or Trilogy.

For this trial, researchers looked back at elderly patients with early lung cancer treated in North Holland between 2005 and 2007. They found that there were no differences in the long-term survival for patients treated with either treatment but that surgery had a higher risk of death in the first 30 days.

"Many would expect that the patients treated with radiotherapy would do worse than those undergoing surgery," David Palma, M.D., lead author of the study and a Canadian radiation oncologist who performed the work while on a research fellowship at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, was quoted as saying. "At the time that these patients underwent treatment, patients only received radiation if they were too unwell for surgery or if they refused surgery. Because most radiotherapy patients had medical problems that prevented them from having surgery, we would expect them not to live as long as the surgery patients. Yet, despite this disadvantage, the radiotherapy patients lived just as long. This shows us that the stereotactic treatment is effective even in patients who have many medical problems. I would encourage patients with early lung cancer to talk to their oncologists to learn about all their treatment options, including radiation therapy."

SOURCE: 2010 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology held in Chicago, Illinois from December 9-11, 2010

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