Though mesothelioma can be treated with conventional therapies such as radiation therapy, if is often difficult to treat as mesotheliomas don’t usually grow as single, distinct tumors. The American Cancer Society says that it can be hard to aim radiation at mesotheliomas while avoiding nearby normal tissues. However, says ACS, “new radiation therapy techniques may make this form of treatment more useful.” A number of recent studies on one “newer” form of radiation therapy support this assertion.
New research shows that intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) may be better and safer than external beam (conformal) radiation therapy. Authors Michael D. Mills and Shiao Y. Woo wrote in the book, Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy, "a number of clinical studies have demonstrated superior dose distributions with IMRT compared to conventional radiation therapy. An important corollary is the reduced acute radiation toxicity as a result of normal tissue avoidance and ability to perform dose escalation. Within the past 25 years, this concept has progressed from theory to prototype delivery systems to wide and universal acceptance of IMRT as a necessary standard of good radiotherapy delivery practice.”
In a recent study, researchers evaluated twenty-four radiation therapy plannings in malignant mesothelioma patients, and compared them with dosimetric outcomes of conformal radiation therapy and IMRT. The research team discovered that IMRT was “statistically superior in target coverage and dose homogeneity.” In conclusion, the team wrote, “with a complex and large target volume of malignant pleural mesothelioma, intensity-modulated radiation therapy has the ability to deliver efficient tumoricidal radiation dose within the safe dose limits of the remaining lung tissue.” In a nutshell, IMRT was found to be more effective and less harmful.
Other reports say researchers in Texas and New York found that mesothelioma patients who had IMRT after extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) or pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) surgery lived longer than most people did with the disease. This is all very exciting news for the future of IMRT as a potential life-saving treatment for mesothelioma.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, talk to your doctor about newer treatments such as IMRT. When combined with conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery, IMRT could help you live longer.
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Ulger, Sukran, Eren Cetin, and Serap Catli. "Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy Improves the Target Coverage Over 3-D Planning While Meeting Lung Tolerance Doses for All Patients With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma." Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment 16.3 (2016): 332-38. SAGE Journals. Web. 7 Aug. 2017.
Woo, Shiao Y. "History of IMRT." Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy. By Michael D. Mills. Japan: Springer, 2015. 3-14. Print.