Radiotherapy Shows Promise In Liver Tumor Treatment

Liver cancer strikes an estimated 39,000 Americans each year. With a fatality estimate of about 27,000 people annually, the disease is considered one of the more deadly forms of cancer. While certain cases can be successfully treated through surgery and other procedures, not all tumors are operable. Researchers are finding, however, that higher doses of radiotherapy may improve overall survival rates in those diagnosed with inoperable intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, or IHCC for short.

Those findings came out of a study conducted at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. There researchers examined 79 patients with IHCC and treated them with definitive radiotherapy. Prior to receiving the treatment, 70 of the patients also received chemotherapy. The median follow up time on the patients was about 33 months. At the three-year mark, the overall survival rate for patients who received a higher dose of radiotherapy was 73 percent versus patients who received lower doses. The lower dose patients had a survival rate of about 38%.

The findings, researchers say, offer promise to those diagnosed with IHCC. While surgery can prove to be beneficial, many patients find their tumors are inoperable. When this is the case, higher dose radiotherapy may improve survival rates while better controlling the disease.

The study’s authors say that higher doses may in fact be indicated to improve outcomes for liver cancer patients. They did, however, hinge that recommendation on being able to constrain dosing to the liver, bile duct, stomach and bowel. They also strongly recommended image guidance to ensure a more targeted and safer dose delivery for radiotherapy.

People who are concerned about liver cancer are urged to discuss this topic with their healthcare providers. This disease, like many other forms of cancer, can often be treated successfully when caught in its earliest stages. The best treatment option will depend on the unique case in question.

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