Brain Radiotherapy 'No Benefit' for Lung Cancer Spread

Brain Radiotherapy
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Whole Brain Radiotherapy – Not Beneficial to Lung Cancer Spread to Brain


Research in the Lancet has stated that whole brain radiotherapy- WBRT seems to be of no benefit to individuals having lung cancer that has spread to the brain. The authors state that though whole brain radiotherapy could be beneficial in patients who tend to be younger than 60 years old, it would not be considered as a standard treatment for the majority of patients having non-small cell lung cancer – NSCLC which has spread to the brain.

The results is said to be presented at the European Respiratory Society meeting in London on September 5th. A sample of over 500 patients showed that it did not prolong or improve their quality of life any more than the other types of treatment.

Every year over 45,000 people have been diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK and in a third of cases, the cancer tends to spread to the brain. Secondary brain tumours tend to be usually treated with whole brain radiotherapy together with steroids as well as other treatments to ease the side-effects of the therapies for cancer. However, there can be serious side effect like nausea and extreme tiredness and could cause damage to the nervous system.

Radiosurgery – Precise Type of Radiotherapy


The research, comprising of doctors, researchers and patients from hospitals from across the UK, have discovered that there seems to be no improvement in the quality of life of those patients after a week of whole brain radiotherapy.

These patients seem to already have a poor forecast. The consultant clinical oncologist with Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Paula Mulvenna, has informed that the whole brain radiotherapy had been utilised since it was believed to control tumours. However, in the lung cancer clinics, the expected improvements were not found in the patients.

Survival times seem to be poor which has hardly changed since the 1980s. Moreover, the toxicity of technique could be extensive and could damage reasoning function. As per Prof Ruth Langley, from the Medical Research Council clinical trials unit at University College London, states that radiosurgery is a very precise type of radiotherapy and is preferred as analternate technique that tends to have the least side effects. Nonetheless, some of the scientists state that there could still be a place for whole brain radiotherapy.

Result/Classical Prognostics Factor/Molecular status


Dr Cecile le Pechoux from Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus in France, while writing in a linked comment in the Lancet,had mentioned that they believe that optimised whole brain radiotherapy given at the appropriate time to the right patients could lead to more personalised strategies.

 They have stated that all treatments need to be discussed with the patients considering the result of the trial, classical prognostics factors as well as the molecular status. Whole brain radiotherapy had been adopted in clinical practices built on the assumption that it tends to improve tumour control in the patients suffering from brain metastases.

However in the lung cancer clinics, no improvement was seen in the patients with the survival times being poor.In spite of its extensive use, till now there does not seem to be any strong evidence in defining whether whole brain radiotherapy that tends to have considerable side effect is better than the best reassuring care with regards to prolonging life or improving the quality of life of a patient.

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