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Pioneering trial targets brain tumors

Posted on the 16th February 2023

Brain Scan

A world-first clinical trial of a pioneering treatment technique for brain tumors has begun.

A team of radiologists, neurosurgeons, oncologists, nurses, physicists and pathologists at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester are using detailed MRI scans and highly targeted radiotherapy before surgery with the aim of reducing the likelihood of tumors growing back quickly, thereby helping patients live longer.

Currently, brain tumor patients around the world have surgery first, then radiotherapy, then chemotherapy. Even with such an intensive treatment course, fewer than 10 per cent of those with glioblastomas, a fast-growing and aggressive brain cancer on which the trial focused, live for more than five years, according to experts.

However, despite extensive research and hundreds of trials, the standard treatment sequence of surgery first, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy, has never been challenged.

Brain tumors are notoriously difficult to treat, and treatment options have not improved significantly in decades.

Now the team are overturning the standard medical practice in the hope of improving outcomes for brain tumor patients.

The trial – codenamed POBIG (PreOperative Brain Irradiation in Glioblastoma) – is at an early stage.

Patients in the trial have an MRI scan to help the surgeons best estimate where remnant cells are most likely to be left after they operate. A single dose of radiation is aimed precisely at that area. Patients then have surgery followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy, as is standard practice.

Experts seeking to improve outcomes for other cancers are now trying similar strategies.

Last month, January, it was revealed that giving early-stage bowel cancer patients chemotherapy before surgery cut the risk of it coming back by 28 per cent.

The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, claims that hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide could benefit from the approach every year.

Related: UK cancer cases to increase by a third by 2040

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