New cancer therapy: Improved radiation technology can heal despite metastases

New cancer therapy: Improved radiation technology can heal despite metastases

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Innovative procedure enables targeted treatment of tumors
New Hope For Cancer Patients: Have Some With Cancer
few metastases formed, these can be treated in the future with the help of a new type of radiation therapy. This is reported by the German Society for Radiation Oncology (DEGRO) at this year's annual conference, which recently took place in Mannheim. According to this, the new method could target tumors with very high radiation doses without causing excessive strain on the healthy tissue. According to the experts, this would increase the chances of recovery - even if the cancer has already spread.

Around half a million people are diagnosed with cancer each year
According to information from the German Cancer Aid, around 500,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Germany, and around 224,000 people die of it each year. Cancer is the second most common cause of death after cardiovascular disease. If the tumor is localized, it can be cured in most cases through local treatment options such as surgery. However, if it has already spread to other parts of the body or metastasized, treatment is much more difficult. A cure can only be achieved here if the tumor and all metastases can be operated well or completely destroyed by other therapeutic methods.

“In the past, when the cancer spread, only system therapies such as chemotherapy were often available. Anti-cancer substances circulate in the bloodstream and reach the cells everywhere in the body, ”Professor Dr. med. Stephanie E. Combs cited in the DEGRO announcement. Although this could be effective, it often means serious side effects for the patient, the director of the clinic and polyclinic for radiation oncology and radiation therapy at the Klinikum rechts der Isar in Munich continues.

Precise alignment of the radiation possible
If the cancer spread only in a few places in the body (“oligometastasis”, from Greek “oligo” for “little”), according to the expert, it would be an advantage if treatment was carried out directly on the affected area. For this purpose, a new radiation method has now been developed, which is called “stereotactic radiation therapy” (short: stereotaxy). The advantage over conventional radiation therapy lies in the precision with which the radiation can be directed onto damaged tissue. Because therapists can determine with millimeter precision which areas should be treated. In addition, the tumor is irradiated from several sides, which means that the surrounding healthy tissue is less stressed. “We can use this to apply a very high radiation dose directly to the affected area. The dose is then much lower for the surrounding healthy tissue, ”summarizes Stephanie E. Combs.

Generally applicable to any type of cancer
If, for example, brain metastases were irradiated, the risk of neurocognitive restrictions would decrease. "High-precision radiation therapy can be compared to surgical treatment, for example with small metastases in the lungs," continues the expert. For other types of cancer, such as a prostate carcinoma with few bone metastases, the new procedure can suppress the disease and delay the start of hormone therapy. In general, the stereotaxy can be used for any tumor disease, such as breast cancer, DEGRO informs. “With stereotactic radiation therapy, we not only treat effectively, but with few side effects. And we are increasing the chances of a cure, even if the cancer has spread, ”said Frederik Wenz, conference president and director of the Clinic for Radiation Therapy and Radiation Oncology at the University Hospital Mannheim, according to the announcement.

The tumor must be small and very precisely localized
According to Stephanie Combs, the prerequisite for implementation is precise information about the size and spread of the metastases. No treatment will be carried out until they prove a chance of success. As the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein informs, three conditions have to be fulfilled at the same time so that extremely precise radiation can be considered. Accordingly, the tumor must be relatively small with a maximum of two to three centimeters and can be located very precisely in the X-ray image. Second, the tumor should grow well delineated, so that precautionary radiation of the surroundings is not necessary. If these points are met, the patient must be positioned very precisely to ensure that the target area hits the body exactly. (No)

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