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 July 23, 2003
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Easier Treatment for Elderly Brain Cancer Patients
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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New research has uncovered an alternative and possibly better treatment option for an elderly patient diagnosed with brain cancer. The study shows a chemotherapy drug that can be taken orally at home is just as effective as chemotherapy.

Radiotherapy has been the first choice of treatment for patients with brain cancer for more than 20 years. However, the value of this treatment for patients over age 70 remains controversial. Some physicians advocate withholding therapy following diagnosis because elderly patients do not tolerate radiotherapy very well. However, a new chemotherapy drug called temozolomide may give patients a new choice. Researchers from Southwestern Vermont Cancer Center, the University of Southern California and the University of Massachusetts teamed up to study the outcomes of elderly patients given temozolomide and compare them to those who receive irradiation.

For the study, 86 elderly patients diagnosed with brain cancer were followed. Thirty-two of the patients received monthly temozolomide and the remaining patients received irradiation. Researchers found no difference in survival between the two groups. They also found toxicity was minimal in the chemotherapy group contrary to what many physicians believe.

Authors of the study conclude temozolomide is as effective as irradiation as a treatment for elderly patients with brain cancer. They say it is an alternative and perhaps even a superior option for this group of patients because it is so easy to administer and should be offered as a first line of therapy.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers a searchable archive of its medical reports written since 1995. To search, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/search/.

SOURCE: Cancer, 2003;97:2262-2266

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