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New radiation therapy boon for head, neck cancer patients

Washington, Jan 13 : An advanced radiation therapy can improve outcomes in head and neck cancer patients, shows research.


Patients with cancers of the head and neck who received intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) - that targets cancer cells more precisely and spare nearby tissues -experienced reduced toxicities compared to conventional radiation therapy, according to a new research from University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Centre.

"Previous studies indicated that patients treated with IMRT did better when it came to treatment-related side effects, however these studies were not designed to examine survival," said Beth Beadle, assistant professor in MD Anderson's radiation oncology department.

IMRT sends multiple beams of radiation that allows oncologists to provide a dosage that conforms to the tumour while limiting exposure to surrounding tissue, said the study published in the journal Cancer.

Researchers identified 3,172 patients treated for head and neck cancer between 1999-2007 who received either conventional radiation therapy or IMRT.

In total, 1,056 patients were treated with IMRT and 2,116 were treated with conventional therapy.

Beadle and colleagues found that patients treated with IMRT had a statistically significant improvement (38.9 percent) compared to those treated with conventional therapy (18.9 percent), respectively.

"The findings support the use of IMRT and suggests we can provide excellent care while optimising cancer outcomes and reducing toxicities," Beadle said.

"IMRT is more expensive than conventional radiation therapy but the data suggest it's worth it," he added.

The IMRT use has seen a substantial increase worldwide owing to its advantages in being able to target complicated tumours while minimising side effects such as chronic dry mouth, dental complications fibrosis and range of motion impairments, the study concluded.

--IANS (Posted on 13-01-2014)

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