Radiation therapy plus chemotherapy with Temodar® (temozolomide) improves survival in patients with glioblastoma; almost 10% of patients treated with the combination therapy were alive after five years, compared with 2% of patients treated with radiation alone. The results of this study were published in the Lancet Oncology.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most common and fatal types of primary brain cancer. Even with the most aggressive treatment available, many patients will survive less than one year after diagnosis. Historically, patients have been treated with surgery followed by radiation; however, researchers have been evaluating innovative treatment strategies to improve survival in this disease.
The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC) conducted a randomized, Phase III trial to evaluate the effects of radiation plus chemotherapy in patients with glioblastoma. The study included 573 patients who were randomly assigned to receive radiation alone or radiation with concurrent Temodar followed by up to six cycles of adjuvant Temodar.
After five years of follow-up, the results indicated that the combined treatment with radiation and chemotherapy improved survival. In the group of patients treated with Temodar and radiation, 27.2% were alive at two years, 16% at three years, 12.1% at four years, and 9.8% at five years. In comparison, of those treated with radiation alone, 10.9% were alive at two years, 4.4% at three years, 3.0% at four years, and 1.9% at five years. Furthermore, younger patients and patients with certain genetic profiles tended to fare better, with some even surviving beyond five years.
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The researchers concluded that combined treatment with radiation and Temodar improved survival in patients with glioblastoma. Research will likely be ongoing to continue to discover methods for improving survival in this population.
Stupp R, Hegi ME, Mason WP, et al. Effects of radiotherapy with concomitant and adjuvant temozolomide versus radiotherapy alone on survival in glioblastoma in a randomized phase III study: 5-year analysis of the EORTC-NCIC trial. Lancet Oncology [early online publication]. 9 March 2009doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(09)70025-7