Shorter radiotherapy treatment for bowel cancer patients during COVID-19

April 06, 2020

An international panel of cancer experts has recommended a one-week course of radiotherapy and delaying surgery as the best way to treat patients with bowel cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The short course of treatment involves higher-intensity radiation rather than five weeks of radiotherapy coupled with chemotherapy. Surgery, which normally happens one to two weeks after radiotherapy, can be safely delayed by up to 12 weeks, say the expert panel.

This approach, based on the latest research evidence, will maintain the best chance of successfully treating the disease while at the same time reducing the side effects of treatment and the risks of COVID-19 infection.

People with bowel cancer are more susceptible to severe complications from COVID-19 because their immune system is weakened. Shorter-course radiotherapy avoids the need for chemotherapy, which further suppresses the immune system. It also means significantly fewer hospital appointments, allowing patients to maintain social distancing rules.

David Sebag-Montefiore, Professor of Clinical Oncology at the University of Leeds and Honorary Clinical Oncologist with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, who led the expert panel, said: "The COVID-19 pandemic is a global emergency and we needed to work very quickly to identify changes that would benefit patients. Our recommendations were published 20 days after our first meeting.

"This process normally takes many months, if not years."

Writing in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology, the panel, made up of cancer experts from across Europe, say it is also possible that hospitals may struggle to offer the current treatment approaches as COVID-19 impacts on hospital staffing levels.

The expert panel's recommendations can be found here: https://www.thegreenjournal.com/article/S0167-8140(20)30173-0/pdf

The 15- strong panel comprised researchers who led the defining studies. Their research shows that surgery can be safely delayed by 12 weeks. The chances of successful treatment are maintained and post-operative side effects are reduced. This allows surgery to be scheduled after the peak of the pandemic.

The recommendation to use shorter-course radiotherapy follows a major study, funded by the UK Medical Research Council and led by Professor Sebag-Montefiore, which demonstrated the benefit of the one-week course of radiotherapy.

Professor Sebag-Montefiore added: "Our guidelines will result in a very substantial change in treatment across the globe. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our patients will benefit from the use of an effective, shorter and safer radiotherapy treatment."
-end-
Notes to Editors

For further details or for request to talk to Professor Sebag-Montefiore, please contact David Lewis in the press office: d.lewis@leeds.ac.uk

The paper demonstrating the benefits of shorter-course radiotherapy can be found by following the link: Preoperative radiotherapy versus selective postoperative chemoradiotherapy in patients with rectal cancer (MRC CR07 and NCIC-CTG C016): a multicentre, randomised trial https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60484-0

Professor Sebag-Montefiore is Clinical Director of the Leeds Cancer Research UK Centre of Excellence for Radiotherapy Research, Chair of the National Cancer Research Institute Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Group (CTRad) and Clinical Director of the Cancer Research UK Leeds Clinical Trial Unit.

Images of Professor Sebag-Montefiore can be downloaded from our Google Drive account by following this link:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rAlO5b1Y5LurOzvH_Kzy0U3BfxQzm-y2?usp=sharing

The University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 38,000 students from more than 150 different countries, and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University plays a significant role in the Turing, Rosalind Franklin and Royce Institutes.

We are a top ten university for research and impact power in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and are in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2020. The University was awarded a Gold rating by the Government's Teaching Excellence Framework in 2017, recognising its 'consistently outstanding' teaching and learning provision. Twenty-six of our academics have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships - more than any other institution in England, Northern Ireland and Wales - reflecting the excellence of our teaching. http://www.leeds.ac.uk

Unsubscribe from this list

University of Leeds

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.