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Elderly patients with glioblastoma live longer with short-course radiation and oral chemotherapy

June 5, 2016

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A Canadian-led randomized phase III trial found that adding temozolomide chemotherapy during short-course radiation therapy, followed by monthly maintenance doses of temozolomide, significantly improved survival of elderly patients with glioblastoma (primary brain tumour).

Odette Cancer Centre neuro-oncologist Dr. James Perry, study co-principle investigator and first author, presented the findings at the American Society for Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois on June 5, 2016.

The study is the first to test the combination of temozolomide and radiation therapy in older adults. Patients over age 65 make up half of all patients with this disease. While side effects like nausea and vomiting were slightly greater among patients receiving chemotherapy, overall quality of life was similar in both patient groups.

“Although glioblastoma disproportionately affects older patients, there are no clear guidelines for treating these patients, and practice varies globally,” said Dr. Perry, Sunnybrook’s Head of Neurology and the Crolla Family Endowed Chair in Brain Tumour Research. “This study provides the first evidence from a randomized clinical trial that chemotherapy in combination with a shorter radiation schedule significantly extends survival without a detriment to quality of life.”

One hundred sites around the world participated in the study.

Learn more about this study or presentation at ASCO here or via the Canadian Clinical Trials Group, which oversaw the study.