Intravenous chemoradiation effective for inoperable head, neck cancer; easier for patients, doctors

November 06, 2006

Chemoradiation (radiation and chemotherapy given at the same time) given through a needle or tube inserted into a vein (intravenous) is as effective as treatment given directly to the tumor through a tube inserted into an artery (intra-arterial) for patients with inoperable head and neck cancer, according to a randomized study presented at the plenary session November 6, 2006, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 48th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

"We were surprised about the findings because previous studies that were not randomized found that intra-arterial chemoradiation was more effective than intravenous treatment," said Coen Rasch, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute/Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Huis in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. "Since intravenous chemoradiation is an easier treatment procedure for patients and doctors, it should be considered the standard of care for inoperable head and neck cancer."

The study compared intra-arterial to intravenous chemoradiation in 240 patients with inoperable head and neck cancer, who were assigned to one of the treatment procedures by chance. The chemoradiation was a combination of radiation and cisplatin, a type of chemotherapy that can kill cancer cells, especially when combined with radiation. Results found that both treatment methods were able to control the same amount of cancer growth.
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For more information on radiation therapy for head and neck cancer, visit www.rtanswers.org.

The abstract, "Intra-arterial Versus Intravenous Chemoradiation for Advanced Head and Neck Cancer, Early Results of a Multi-institutional Trial," will be presented at the plenary session on Monday, November 6, at 2:00 p.m. To speak to the lead author of the study, Coen Rasch, M.D., Ph.D., please call Beth Bukata or Julie Moore November 5-8 in the ASTRO Press Room at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 215-418-2257 or 215-418-2258. You may also e-mail Julie at juliem@astro.org.

American Society for Radiation Oncology

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