Chemo Plus Radiation Boosted Survival in Brain Cancer Patients

Glioma patients showed improved survival and progression free survival after PCV and radiation

(RxWiki News) Brain cancer can be treated in a number of ways that include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Combining treatments may hold even more benefit to patients.

A past study involving patients with a form of brain cancer called glioma showed that chemotherapy given after radiation therapy increased the amount of time before the cancer returned.

Since those results were from early in that study, researchers continued to assess the glioma patients to see how long they lived and to collect more data on when the cancer returned.

Results presented at a scientific meeting this week reported that glioma patients treated with chemotherapy after radiation lived longer and had a longer amount of time before the cancer returned than those treated with radiation alone.

"Discuss treatment options with your oncologist."

This study's lead author was Jan Buckner, MD, Deputy Director of Cancer Practice at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Buckner and team followed up with 251 male and female patients whose results were reported in the original study.

Patients in the original study had brain tumors called gliomas. The study included patients with three types of gliomas: astrocytomas, oligo-astrocytomas or oligodendrogliomas. 

Glioma patients were included in the study if they were 40 years old or older and had any surgery to remove their tumor, or if they were under age 40 and had a partial surgical removal of their tumor.

Patients in the original study were assigned to be given radiation treatment or radiation treatment followed by chemotherapy. The chemotherapy was a combination of three medications: procarbazine (brand name Matulane), CCNU and vincristine (brand name Oncovin).

Dr. Buckner and his team followed most patients in the study for about 12 years. They looked to see how long the patients lived and the length of time until the cancer returned.

These researchers found that patients who were treated with radiation and chemotherapy lived an average of 13 years versus about eight years for patients who were treated with radiation alone.

Patients who had oligodendroglioma brain cancer had better outcomes that those with the other two forms of glioma. Females had better outcomes than males.

Dr. Buckner said the next step in the research will be to study the brain tumor tissue and identify proteins and other genetic markers. The markers will then allow researchers to determine which patients will benefit the most from specific therapies.

This research was presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Cancer Institute.

Review Date: 
June 4, 2014