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New Treatment for Mesothelioma Highlighted at Conference

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Experts from around the globe will be meeting in Barcelona, Spain this month to discuss the benefits of a targeted type of radiation therapy that has shown promise in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma.

TomoTherapy is the brand name for an Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy system designed to deliver high doses of radiation directly into tumor cells, while minimizing the damage to surrounding healthy tissues. The developers of the technology will present 82 new studies of its impact on various cancers, including mesothelioma, at the conference sponsored by the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ESTRO).

Mesothelioma, which involves the lining of the lungs and chest wall, is notoriously difficult to treat with radiation therapy because of the size and irregular shape of the tumor. The cancer’s proximity to healthy tissues, including a potentially healthy second lung, also makes radiation therapy for mesothelioma complex and risky. But a number of mesothelioma studies have also pointed to the value of incorporating radiation therapy into a multi-modality treatment plan that typically also includes surgery and chemotherapy.

The mesothelioma study being highlighted at the ESTRO conference was performed by a group of researchers at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan. In the study, researchers compared the treatment response of two sets of patients, both of which had been treated with the TomoTherapy platform. One set of mesothelioma patients also received a ‘Simultaneous Integrated Boost’ or SIB during their radiation treatment. SIB allows physicians to administer an extra ‘boost’ of radiation directly into the regions that were shown on PET scans to have the highest concentration of tumor cells.

The results were promising for mesothelioma patients and their physicians. According to the research, TomoTherapy utilizing the SIB technique appears to offer some significant survival benefits. Patients who received the SIB during therapy saw their one-year survival rate increase to 72 percent, compared to 43 percent for the non-SIB group. Researchers also found that the patients who had received the SIB dose did not have a relapse of their cancer for an average of 16 months, versus just six months for the non-SIB group.

The research was published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics.


“Benefits of TomoTherapy® Radiation Therapy Highlighted in 82 Studies to be Presented at ESTRO 29”, September 8, 2010. TomoTherapy Inc. Press Release, Fodor, A. “Hemithoracic Helical TomoTherapy (HT) for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM): Early Results of a Dose Escalation Experience”, Nov. 1, 2009, International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics. Volume 75, Issue 3, Supplement, Pg. S475.

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