EORTC helps improve standard of care for brain cancer patients

Research conducted and supported by EORTC, in collaboration with other academic research groups, is contributing to improving overall management for brain cancer patients.

As part of this work, three EORTC studies recently presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting exposed important findings, providing new insights into the effective and safe treatment of rare brain tumors. “The results of these trials help establish new treatment protocols for these patients, and improve survival rate and quality of life,” said Dr Michael Weller, Chair of the Brain Tumor group at EORTC.

One of these trials, sponsored by the NCIC, demonstrates the benefit of a shorter radiation schedule in combination with chemotherapy in elderly patients with glioblastoma, which increases two-year survival by about 10%, without affecting their quality of life.  “This is the first study, since the establishment of the standard of care combining temozolomide and radiotherapy, to look into the treatment of patients aged 70 years and above with glioblastoma,” said Alba Brandes, EORTC Study Coordinator for the trial. “Since this type of tumor is mostly prevalent in elderly patients, it was important to ensure that the treatment protocol was adapted to their needs. Indeed, this study shows that a less aggressive radiation regimen is better suited for that patient population.”

The second trial presented at ASCO establishes that chemotherapy after radiotherapy for patients with anaplastic glioma delays tumor progression and increases five-year survival rate from 44% to 56%. These results could help establish new standard of care for the treatment of this rare form of brain tumor, increasing overall survival for these patients.

The third study explored the use of bevacizumab in combination with lomustine in patients recurrent glioblastoma. The study did not result in an improved overall survival rate for those patients, although it delayed tumor growth. These findings require careful consideration and will be evaluated by the relevant health authorities to determine the use of bevacizumab in this patient population.

“The contribution of EORTC and its network to these important academic, inter-group, international studies can help fuel considerable advances in neuro-oncology,” said Vassilis Golfinopoulos, EORTC Medical Director. “Conducting research for these types of rare cancers can only be done through the type of collaboration and infrastructure we have established over the years, and we are proud to participate in improving treatment and quality of life for patients with brain tumors.”

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