Radiation therapy chemotherapy combination improves survival in adults with low-grade brain cancer

ScienceDaily. Published online: 7th April 2016

Image shows magnetic resonance imaging scan showing cystic cerebellar astrocytoma.

Patients with a low-grade type of brain tumor called glioma who received radiation therapy plus a chemotherapy regimen, including procarbazine, lomustine and vincristine (PCV), experienced a longer progression-free survival and overall survival than patients who received radiation therapy alone, according to the results of the clinical trial.

Between October 1998 and June 2002, 251 patients with low-grade glioma were enrolled in the RTOG 9802 trial. Patients enrolled were at high risk, compared to other patients with low-grade glioma, because they were 40 or older, or had a less-than-complete surgical removal of their tumor.

Patients were randomized to 1 of 2 trial arms, radiation therapy plus six cycles of PCV chemotherapy or radiation therapy alone. Before treatment, researchers conducted a pathology review on tumor samples and prepared for samples for correlative laboratory studies to assess mutational status and identify prognostic variables.

At a median follow-up time of 11.9 years, 67 percent of enrolled patients were identified as having tumor progression, and 55 percent of patients had died. Patients in the radiation therapy plus PCV chemotherapy arm had longer median survival times, compared with those in the trial arm who received radiation therapy alone (13.3 versus 7.8 years, respectively; p=0.003). Median progression- free survival time for patients receiving radiation therapy plus PCV chemotherapy versus radiation therapy alone was 10.4 years and 4.0 years, respectively. Ten-year, progression-free survival and overall survival rates for patients in the radiation therapy plus PCV chemotherapy arm versus those in the radiation therapy alone arm were 51 percent versus 21 percent and 60 percent versus 40 percent, respectively.

Read the full commentary here

Read the research article abstract here

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