New research suggests the benefits from including chemotherapy in radiation treatments could prolong patients’ lives significantly, as it reduces the brain tumors’ growth. Even though there’s no effective treatment that can extend the lives of patients with terminal conditions, the study sheds some hope for those terminal patients.
The study was published Thursday in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, and could lead researchers to develop a new method to remove brain tumors, or at least treating them effectively. Brain tumors are often benign, thus is easier to remove them, with or without surgery, because they don’t represent an imminent threat to the patient, yet malign tumors do threaten the patient’s life.
The findings claiming chemotherapy could be a significant factor to stop brain tumors from growing when added to radiation treatments was based on a study dating back almost two decades. The study, led by Dr. Jan Buckner, chairman of oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, followed a number of patients and they’re progression since over 18 years ago.
The volunteers involved in the study were treated for grade 2 gliomas, these are tumors located in the brain cells, or glial cells, thus the name. These types of tumors have a rather slow progression in comparison with other type of tumors that appear to be more aggressive.
The base for the study to determine chemotherapy can prolong patients’ life expectancy when added to radiation treatment involved 251 patients recruited back in 1998. For the purpose of science, the volunteers were separated in two groups, the first one endured six weeks of radiation treatment while the second one both radiation and chemotherapy treatment. It’s worth mentioning that all patients were given plenty of drugs, most of them still experimental drugs at the time.
Terminal patients’ tough call on treatment options
Although scientists were already aware that tumors showed a slow growth after adding chemotherapy to patients undergoing radiation treatments, the life expectancy boost took them by surprise. These could mean a breakthrough in modern health considering there’s no therapy proven to extend the patient’s life spawn.
Yet, patients also have to consider the toll both treatments take on the patients’ health, as they can be brutal for anyone to withstand. Radiation treatment normally leaves the patient weakened, with no appetite, and is known to cause vomiting, diarrhea and massive headaches. While the chemotherapy doesn’t differentiate much from radiation, yet it includes the risk of infertility as well as constant visits to the doctor for dialysis.