Image-guided brachytherapy cuts cervical cancer morbidity

Image-guided brachytherapy could deliver targeted high doses of radiotherapy while sparing cervical cancer patients from serious side effects, according to preliminary findings presented in April at the 2nd ESTRO Forum in Geneva.

An article recapping the findings, published in the June issue of The Lancet Oncology, underscored the importance of the research. “Image-guided brachytherapy with either CT or MRI allows oncologists to monitor the tumor response to the treatment, and to adjust the dose accordingly, sparing the bowel and bladder from radiation,” read the article, which was authored by Sanjay Tanday.

The study presented at ESTRO is still in progress, but found that cervical cancer patients treated with image-guided brachytherapy rarely experienced severe vaginal morbidity in the first two years following treatment, according to Kathrin Kirchheiner, MSc, of Medical University Vienna, and colleagues. Mild to moderate morbidity was common, however, experienced by 78 percent of patients in the first year and by 92 percent of patient in the second year.

Findings were based on an analysis of 523 patients with locally advanced cervical cancer who had been treated with external beam radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy and MR-guided brachytherapy for an average of 14 months.

The Lancet Oncology article quotes Jane Barrett, MD, president of the Royal College of Radiologists in London, as saying, “For cervix cancer, the possibility of reducing toxicity and improving quality of life, whilst maintaining high cure rates, has been difficult to establish with other approaches and these results offer confirmation of this being an effective way to develop treatment.”