Twice a day radiotherapy halves treatment time but gives equally good results: Study

Having radiotherapy once a day for six & a half weeks or twice a day for three weeks, combined with chemotherapy, is equally efficient at treating small cell lung cancer that has not spread, new clinical trial results revealed.

The CONVERT clinical trial, the biggest trial ever completed in lung cancer patients, was conducted on nearly 550 patients from around the globe. The patients were split into two groups – one group receiving radiotherapy once a day for six and a half weeks and the other receiving radiotherapy twice a day for three weeks. All patients also received chemotherapy.

Researchers from the University of Manchester and others in Canada, France, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, and Slovenia compared results to determine survival rates and side effects for both groups.

The study revealed that survival in both groups was almost similar with 56 percent of cancer patients who received radiotherapy twice a day surviving for a couple of years as compared with 51 percent of those who received the treatment once a day.

Prof. Corinne Faivre-Finn, who led the trial, “Based on our findings, small cell lung cancer patients will be able to choose between a shorter course of radiotherapy given twice a day and a longer course given once a day.”

These results from a Cancer Research UK-funded clinical trial will be presented at the ASCO cancer conference this Sunday.

As per the research paper published by the study team, “HAVING radiotherapy once a day for six and a half weeks or twice a day for three weeks — when combined with chemotherapy — is equally good at treating small cell lung cancer that hasn’t spread. These results — from a Cancer Research UK-funded clinical trial presented at the ASCO cancer conference today (Sunday) — mean patients and doctors can choose together which treatment suits them best.”

The trial also found that small cell lung cancer patients live longer and with fewer side effects than previous studies suggested which is likely to be because of the modern radiotherapy techniques used. Around 550 patients from around the world were split into two groups — one receiving radiotherapy twice a day over three weeks and the other once a day at a higher dose over six and a half weeks. All patients also had chemotherapy.

“Before this study, it was unclear whether having radiotherapy once or twice a day helped more patients survive for longer and what level of side effects was expected with modern radiotherapy techniques. “We’re pleased to provide answers to these questions and our results have already begun to change practice around the world. Based on our findings, small cell lung cancer patients will be able to choose between a shorter course of radiotherapy given twice a day and a longer course given once a day.”

“Finding the most appropriate way to give treatments like radiotherapy is a crucial part of treating cancer. Before this study began there had been few large clinical trials of this type in small cell lung cancer. “Outcomes for lung cancers have been very poor for a long time, so at Cancer Research UK we’re dramatically increasing the amount we’re spending on research in this area, and we’re delighted that the CONVERT trial is making a real difference in how we treat these patients.”

According to a story published on the topic by Daily Mail, “Cancer patients can get their radiotherapy over with more quickly without affecting their survival, research suggests. A clinical trial of patients with lung cancer found they were just as likely to live if they had radiotherapy once a day for six and a half weeks, as if they had it twice a day for three weeks. The study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago, was carried out on people with small cell lung cancer that had not spread around the body.”

Researchers found that survival in both groups was similar, with 56% of patients who had radiotherapy twice a day surviving for two years compared with 51% of those given it once a day. Side effects were similar between the two groups. Professor Corinne Faivre-Finn, a Cancer Research UK-funded scientist from the University of Manchester and the Christie Hospital, who led the trial, said: “Before this study it was unclear whether having radiotherapy once or twice a day helped more patients survive for longer and what level of side effects was expected with modern radiotherapy techniques.

A report published in UPI News revealed, As immunotherapy treatments become more widely used, about 20-50 million patients in the United States will be excluded, the study’s lead author, Dr. Saad Khan, said. “Our team wanted to determine if this practice had a significant impact.” “The new immunotherapy treatments also convey the risk of unpredictable, possibly severe, and potentially irreversible autoimmune toxicities affecting a variety of organs. With combination immunotherapy regimens, rates of these adverse events may exceed 50 percent.”

While immunotherapy stimulates the body’s own immune systems to fight off cancer, the treatment on those with autoimmune diseases would stimulate the body to attack its own tissues more violently. There are over 80 known types of autoimmune disorders. “While prior research has suggested that administering immune therapy to patients with autoimmune disease may be feasible, doing so carries the risk of making their disease worse, and requires careful monitoring,” said Dr. David Gerber, who co-directs UTSW’s Experimental Therapeutics Program.

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