Elderly less likely to benefit from simultaneous radio- & chemotherapy for lung cancer

Barcelona, Spain: An analysis of elderly patients treated in a phase II trial of radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has shown that they were less likely to benefit than younger patients if the two treatments were given at the same time.

Previous research has shown that for NSCLC patients with locally advanced disease (disease that has spread to the lymph nodes), radiotherapy given simultaneously with chemotherapy (concurrent chemo-radiotherapy) gives the best chance of survival, compared to giving chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy (sequential chemo-radiotherapy). However, it is a more intensive treatment and can lead to more and severe side-effects. Until now, it was unknown whether concurrent chemo-radiotherapy also improved survival in patients aged 75 or older, and how they would tolerate the treatment.

The trial, which is to be presented at the ESTRO 37 conference tomorrow (Saturday), investigated intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – a sophisticated form of radiotherapy that precisely targets the cancer and adapts the beam’s shape to that of the tumour, avoiding or reducing exposure of nearby healthy tissues – combined with chemotherapy. The radiation dose was personalised to each patient, so that the maximum possible total dose was delivered to the tumour,


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