Brain radiation after lung cancer treatment reduces risk of cancer spreading

September 6, 2012

Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with surgery and/or radiation therapy have a significantly reduced risk of developing brain metastases if they also receive prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI); however, this study did not show an improvement in overall survival with PCI, according to research presented at the 2012 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology. This symposium is sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) and The University of Chicago.

Patients with non-small cell lung cancer that has not spread outside the chest have a high incidence of brain metastases after receiving treatment for their primary cancer. Radiation to the brain has been proven to decrease the chance of cancer spreading to the brain and to improve overall survival in small cell lung cancer, but its benefits to NSCLC patients are unproven.

Researchers in this study examined 340 stage III NSCLC patients who had received surgery and/or with or without chemotherapy. Patients were randomly assigned to receive PCI or to not receive the additional treatment (observational arm). After a median follow-up time of 24.2 months for all patients and 58.6 months for living patients, the rates of overall survival for the PCI arm versus the observational arm were 26.1 percent versus 24.6 percent, respectively. However, the rate of for the PCI arm was much lower at 17.3 percent versus 26.8 percent for the observational arm.

"This is important confirmatory information regarding the effectiveness of in decreasing the rate of brain failures. Unfortunately this study was very difficult to enroll patients on and ultimately did not accrue enough patients to answer the primary question—Does PCI improve overall survival in patients with locally advanced NSCLC?," said Elizabeth Gore, MD, lead author of the study and a professor of at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. "I'd like to emphasize the need for participation in clinical trials. This is particularly important in lung cancer, which is understudied despite being the leading cause of cancer death in the United States."

Explore further: Stage I NSCLC patients who receive radiation therapy are surviving longer

More information: The abstract, "Phase III Comparison of Prophylactic Cranial Irradiation Versus Observation in Patients with Locally Advanced Non-small-cell Lung Cancer: Updated Analysis of RTOG 0214," will be presented during the Plenary Session at 12:30 p.m., Central time on September 7, 2012.

Related Stories

Stage I NSCLC patients who receive radiation therapy are surviving longer

September 6, 2012
Stage I, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who received radiation therapy have an increased median survival of 21 months compared to 16 months, and the percentage of patients who receive no treatment declined from ...

Adding bavituximab to second-line chemotherapy doubles response rate

September 6, 2012
Adding the monoclonal antibody bavituximab to docetaxel chemotherapy doubles overall response rate and improves progression-free survival and overall survival in late-stage non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer (NS-NSCLC) ...

EURTAC Phase III study: Erlotinib nearly doubles progression-free survival vs. chemotherapy

July 5, 2011
In the first phase III study to include Western lung cancer patients, first-line treatment with erlotinib (Tarceva) nearly doubled progression-free survival compared with chemotherapy, according to research presented at the ...

Many lung cancer patients get radiation therapy that may not prolong their lives

February 13, 2012
A new study has found that many older lung cancer patients get treatments that may not help them live longer. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings suggest ...

Recommended for you

Researchers develop test that can diagnose two cancer types

December 12, 2017
A blood test using infrared spectroscopy can be used to diagnose two types of cancer, lymphoma and melanoma, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Atoh1, a potential Achilles' heel of Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma

December 12, 2017
Medulloblastoma is the most common type of solid brain tumor in children. Current treatments offer limited success and may leave patients with severe neurological side effects, including psychiatric disorders, growth retardation ...

Cancer-causing mutation suppresses immune system around tumours

December 12, 2017
Mutations in 'Ras' genes, which drive 25% of human cancers by causing tumour cells to grow, multiply and spread, can also protect cancer cells from the immune system, finds a new study from the Francis Crick Institute and ...

Drug suppresses spread of breast cancer caused by stem-like cells

December 12, 2017
Rare stem-like tumor cells play a critical role in the spread of breast cancer, but a vulnerability in the pathway that powers them offers a strategy to target these cells using existing drugs before metastatic disease occurs, ...

MRI scans predict patients' ability to fight the spread of cancer

December 12, 2017
A simple, non-invasive procedure that can indicate how long patients with cancer that has spread to the brain might survive and whether they are likely to respond to immunotherapy has been developed by researchers in Liverpool.

A new weapon against bone metastasis? Team develops antibody to fight cancer

December 11, 2017
In the ongoing battle between cancer and modern medicine, some therapeutic agents, while effective, can bring undesirable or even dangerous side effects. "Chemo saves lives and improves survival, but it could work much better ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.