Washington: A new study has revealed that giving chemotherapy after radiotherapy delays further growth of a rare type of brain tumour, increasing the number of patients alive at five years from 44 per cent to 56 per cent.
These results are from a clinical trial for patients with anaplastic glioma run by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).
The phase III clinical trial compared survival for patients whose tumours were thought to be less likely to respond to chemotherapy because they did not have mutations in two genes called 1p and 19q.
750 patients from institutes around the world were split into four groups and either given radiotherapy alone or radiotherapy at the same time as chemotherapy or radiotherapy then chemotherapy or radiotherapy at the same time as and followed by chemotherapy.
Giving chemotherapy after radiotherapy halted tumour growth for 43 months after treatment, compared with19 months for those, who only had radiotherapy.
This improvement resulted in 56 percent of patients given radiotherapy then chemotherapy surviving for five years, compared with only 44 per cent of those who did not.
While giving chemotherapy after radiotherapy has improved survival and is now standard care for these patients, the benefits of chemotherapy at the same time as radiotherapy are still unclear and need further follow-up.
UK trial lead Dr Sara Erridge said, "Our important study showed that giving temozolomide chemotherapy after radiotherapy delays progression and significantly improves survival for this group of patients. This trial has changed the way we manage patients with this type of tumour with radiotherapy followed by temozolomide chemotherapy now being the standard of care."
Study coordinator Martin van den Bent said: "This study demonstrates the value of collaborative academic research in improving the standard of care for rare cancers. Through this partnership between EORTC, Cancer Research UK, North American and Australian study groups we were able to involve a large enough group of patients with this rare tumor type, allowing us to draw definitive conclusions that guide future treatment decisions in this disease."
The study has been presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.