Tracer could indicate radiation benefit to patient

June 3, 2014 by Chris Thomas, Science Network WA
The study aims to use robust methodology to quantify how beneficial radiation is for patients, and how long they feel better after receiving it. Credit: Urology San Antonio

A world-first radiotherapy treatment trial by University of WA researchers could have a major impact on the quality of life for mesothelioma patients.

Funded by an almost $100,000 Cancer Council WA grant, the research team is exploring why some respond to radiotherapy treatment while others don't, as well as developing tests to predict whether patients will respond to avoid people being treated unnecessarily.

Lead researcher Professor Anna Nowak says there have been several retrospective studies and case series that suggest radiotherapy shrinks tumour and improves pain—but only as measured by clinicians.

"No previous study has given a uniform dose of radiotherapy and used patient-rated measures such as pain scores, pain medication doses and quality of life questionnaires as recorded by the patient to quantify the benefits patients actually experience," she says.

"We know there can be differences between seeing a tumour shrink on scans and whether the patient actually feels better after treatment.

"Nobody has previously used robust methodology to quantify what the magnitude of benefit is, what proportion of patients feel better and how long they feel better for."

While radiotherapy is widely used in mesothelioma treatment, there are no known predictors of responsiveness.

But when used for treating other cancers, measuring the (low oxygen levels in a tumour) can give an indication of how well patients might respond.

Measuring tumour oxygen to gauge radiation response

Professor Nowak's team plans to use an imaging technique to examine hypoxia levels within tumours.

"Radiotherapy needs an oxygenated environment to cause cell death in cancers through DNA damage," she says.

"F-Misonidazole, or F-MISO, is a radioactively labelled tracer which is injected into the patient about two hours before a PET [] scan.

"In hypoxic cells, F-MISO goes into the cell and remains trapped because there is no oxygen to regenerate it.

"Our hypothesis is the tumours with the strongest uptake of F-MISO [the most hypoxia] will be those in which patients derive less benefit—less reduction in pain and medication, less improvement in quality of life and less tumour shrinkage on CT scans after radiotherapy."

If F-MISO scans can predict response to radiotherapy, Professor Nowak says it could become a standard test before recommending radiotherapy to patients, allowing them to be better informed about the likelihood of its benefit.

And if hypoxia proves to be a predictor of poor response to , strategies to reverse or improve hypoxia could be studied.

"We are already testing some of these in mice," Profe Nowak says.

"Simple possible strategies may even include blood transfusions, high-flow oxygen or medications currently used to improve blood flow to the heart."

Explore further: Oxygen levels in tumours affect response to treatment

Related Stories

Oxygen levels in tumours affect response to treatment

November 7, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—The genetic make-up of a patient's tumour could be used to personalise their treatment, and help to decide whether they would benefit from receiving additional drugs as part of their radiotherapy programme, ...

New agent may enhance effectiveness of radiotherapy

May 13, 2014
Scientists from The University of Manchester – part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre - have demonstrated the potential of a drug to improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy in stopping tumour growth.

Researchers use new simple cost effective technology to unravel cancer through standard imaging

June 3, 2014
Researchers at Maastricht University Medical Center+ (Maastricht UMC+) and the MAASTRO Clinic have developed a new medical imaging analysis method to predict the risk of dying of cancer in patients. For the first time, they ...

New test developed to detect men at high risk of prostate cancer recurrence

April 5, 2014
Vienna, Austria: A new genetic "signature" to identify prostate cancer patients who are at high risk of their cancer recurring after surgery or radiotherapy has been developed by researchers in Canada, the 33rd conference ...

Radiotherapy could spare bladder cancer patients surgery

October 1, 2013
Radiotherapy is an effective treatment for aggressive bladder cancer and could spare patients surgery that removes the whole bladder, according to a study published in this month's International Journal of Radiation Oncology ...

Hypnosis therapy shown to decrease fatigue levels in breast cancer patients

February 20, 2014
Breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy showed decreased fatigue as a result of cognitive behavioral therapy plus hypnosis (CBTH), according to a study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

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.