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News for Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients

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http://www.ivanhoe.com/channels/p_chann ... ryid=16863

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A recent study reveals administering radiation to the head may be the key to prolonging the lives of people with small cell lung cancer. The procedure increases patients' survival by reducing the risk of the cancer spreading to the brain, a potentially lethal condition, which often accompanies this type of cancer.

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) constitutes 13 percent of all newly diagnosed lung cancers. SCLC is a particularly aggressive form of pulmonary cancer, as it spreads easily to distant parts of the body and can kill patients in less than a year. When SCLC spreads to the brain, it can have a particularly negative effect on physical and psychological functioning. It can also increase a patient's odds of death.

When researchers from VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam studied two groups of SCLC patients, they found those who received standard care plus prophylactic cranial irradiation treatments, meaning radiation was delivered to the brain before the cancer spread there, had a decreased risk of brain metastases and a better survival rate than those who received only standard care. In fact, only 14 percent of SCLC patients who received prophylactic irradiation developed brain tumors while more than 40 percent of patients who did not experienced some form of brain metastases. Patients who received prophylactic cranial irradiation also survived longer than their counterparts. More than 27 percent of patients in the prophylactic cranial irradiation group survived more than a year, while only 13 percent of patients in the other group survived more than 12 months.

"Prophylactic cranial irradiation significantly reduces the risk of symptomatic brain metastases and significantly prolongs survival," Ben Slotman, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Radiation Oncology, was quoted as saying. "As this treatment is well tolerated and does not adversely influence quality of life, prophylactic cranial irradiation should now routinely be offered to all SCLC patients with extensive disease whose cancer responds to chemotherapy."

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