Cancer is still one of the most prolific killers in the world, accounting for one in every six deaths in 2020. Treatment outcomes often depend on the type of cancer and the speed with which it is diagnosed, with some types of cancer being relatively easy to treat and others having worse health outcomes.
Brain tumors tend to have some of the worse outcomes because they can infect healthy brain tissues, restrict the flow of fluid in the brain, and compress and damage other parts of the brain.
Regardless, the aim of every clinician with a cancer patient is to boost their quality of life as much as possible. This can be a little harder to do for brain cancer patients because the condition tends to be much more severe, with an average five-year survival rate of nearly 36%.
According to Leeds Institute of Clinical Trial Research Clinical Trial Coordinator Jaike Belgrave, proton beam therapy may be able to boost the quality of life for patients with brain tumors. Belgrave noted that brain cancer patients may not be sufficiently prepared for the risk and severity of the treatment side effects of anti-tumor therapies, which are the “only option” for treatment.
For instance, the treatment of oligodendroglioma (ODG) usually involves surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy to limit the tumor’s growth, Belgrave explained. However, this treatment can also cause side effects, such as problems with neurocognition years after the treatment’s completion. Patients who undergo photon RT can also experience hormone level abnormalities years after completing their treatment, and this can significantly reduce their quality of life.
Researchers from several institutions came together to develop a study comparing the delayed side effects of standard photon RT, or proton beam therapy (PBT), in adult oligodendroglioma patients with the quality of life and neurocognitive function.
Photon RT treatment is usually given to patients in small doses on weekdays for approximately six weeks to help reduce the possible side effects in healthy brain tissue. Proton beam therapy is also given over a six-week period and uses advanced technology to reduce the RT dose delivered to the healthy parts of the brain, such as the regions responsible for information processing and memory.
This suggests that using PBT in brain cancer treatments may be able to minimize the neurocognitive side effects in brain cancer patients, Belgrave said. The new APPROACH study will try to definitively prove that proton beam therapy can treat oligodendroglioma without impacting patient quality of life.
Although the initial reactions from patients and caregivers have been positive and supportive, Belgrave points out that further research will be needed to determine if lower treatment doses coupled with PBT can reduce the chances of side effects and grant patients a higher quality of life.
As more efforts from companies such as CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) go into researching better cancer treatments, the quality of life of individuals on cancer treatment could improve significantly. This is because attention is being placed on minimizing the adverse side effects of the current treatment options.
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