Patients whose cancer returns at multiple sites after treatment – called oligometastatic cancer – are generally thought incurable, but a recent Phase 2 trial found that a highly precise form of radiation can significantly extend these patients’ lives if the spread shows small tumors, and it does this without diminishing life quality.
The approach was tested in patients with up to five metastatic sites, and doubled the time a patient lived without disease progression.
The trial findings were presented last month at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 2018 Annual Meeting. The trial explored the proposition that if the patient had only a few spots of cancer returning that these spots could be killed by a form of radiation known as Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy [SBRT]*. This kind of radiation therapy uses small thin beams of radiation that are projected into the tumour from different angles. Because of the precision factor the dosage given is high and fewer sessions are required than with more conventional radiation.
Researchers found that SBRT significantly extended patients’ lives by more than one year. While those receiving this approach lived for a median of three years and five months, patients on palliative radiation therapy lived two years and four months.
*SBRT is also known as Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy [SABR]