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Treatment Benefits Elderly Brain Cancer Patients

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 03/15/2003

Treatment Benefits Elderly Brain Cancer Patients

Fri March 14, 2003 02:04 PM ET

By Rossella Lorenzi

PADUA (Reuters Health) - Elderly people with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme can respond well to chemotherapy and radiation and should not be denied treatment, Italian researchers said at a medical conference here on Friday. "We disagree with the concept that all elderly patients with this kind of brain tumor must be treated less aggressively to contain costs and time," Dr. Alba Brandes, an oncologist at the Azienda-Ospedale in Padua, told Reuters Health.

Brandes reported data from the first trial of radiation and chemotherapy for elderly patients with the disease at the 2nd International Conference on Neuro-Oncology, being held here on Friday and Saturday.

The study, carried out from 1993 to 2000 at the Azienda-Ospedale in Padua, involved 45 men and 34 women. All patients, who ranged in age from 65 to 76, had a tumour measuring less than two centimeters after surgery.

Patients were divided into three treatment groups. The first was treated with radiation alone, the second received radiation plus chemotherapy with the drugs procarbazine, lomustine and vincristine and the third group was treated with radiotherapy plus the drug temozolomide.

Compared to participants who received radiation alone, patients treated with radiation plus temozolomide had significantly longer survival. They survived an average of 14.9 months. Adding procarbazine, lomustine and vincristine to radiotherapy did not significantly improve survival.

The time to cancer progression was also better for the radiation plus temozolomide group--10.7 months, versus 5.3 months for chemotherapy alone and 6.9 months for the triple-chemotherapy group.

"We can say that radiotherapy and ... chemotherapy with temozolomide is advised for elderly patients. Moreover, it improves their quality of life," Brandes said.

The study is the first step of a larger trial on glioblastoma conducted by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer. Coordinated by Brandes, it will eventually involve patients from elsewhere in Europe and from Canada.

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