Authors: Daphne Boulicault, Future Science Group
A combined effort from researchers at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester (both partner organizations to the Manchester Cancer Research Center, UK) has raised hopes that a new radiotherapy technique could potentially improve local control and survival in non-small-cell lung cancer patients. The results were recently published in the journal Clinical Oncology.
Traditional treatment for locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer is a one-size-fits-all approach combining radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The potential to increase the dose of radiation varies between patients and is limited by two factors: the size and the location of the tumor relative to sensitive organs such as the lungs and spinal cord. This presents a problem during treatment as the resultant radiation dose may not always be high enough to damage the tumors’ DNA and halt its growth.
In response to this dilemma, the Manchester team investigated methods for personalizing radiotherapy for the disease, with the aim of increasing the dose while reducing damaging effects on surrounding healthy tissues.
Lead researcher, Corinne Faivre-Finn (researcher at The University of Manchester and Honorary Consultant at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust) reported: “Current standard options for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer are associated with poor survival. We wanted to see if more advanced methods of planning and delivering radiotherapy treatment could potentially allow an increase in radiation dose.”
The team investigated whether intensity modulated radiotherapy could be the key to solving this medical conundrum, utilizing data from 20 lung cancer patients. The treatment planning methods employed allowed a higher radiation dose for treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer, while delivering safe doses to the surrounding at-risk organs.
Faivre-Finn divulged plans for a further clinical trial in the hopes of validating these findings: “Our exploratory study suggests that using intensity modulated therapy can allow radiation dose to be increased: calculations indicate that this could yield a 10% improvement in tumor control. We are starting a new clinical trial, funded by Cancer Research UK, investigating the delivery of this personalized intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatment in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. We hope to demonstrate that the increase dose delivered to the tumor will lead to improved survival.”