Survival times for Irish patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) have almost doubled in just a few years, according to research published in the British Journal of Radiology recently.
The median survival rates for patients with GBM, which accounts for up to 60 per cent of all brain tumours, has improved from less than 12 months to close to two years in some cases. The study, which is the first to replicate the results of an international clinical trial in a community setting, was jointly carried out by the St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network and Beaumont.
The authors of the study say the data prove the effectiveness of formalised cancer care and new treatments.
One of the authors, Dr Clare Faul, Consultant Radiation Oncologist at St Luke’s and Beaumont Hospital told the Medical Independent (MI) that the results are “reassuring for patients and encouraging for us”.
One of the motivations for the study was the publication in 2005 of results from a phase 3 clinical trial which demonstrated a significant improvement in survival “with the addition of concurrent and adjuvant temozolomide (TMZ) to radical radiotherapy (RT)”. These recommendations, the so called Stupp protocol, were subsequently adopted at Beaumont.
The aim of the Irish study, Dr Faul explained, was to see if the improved survival in the trial translated to clinical practice.
The audit of 273 patients treated with RT at Beaumont from 1998 to 2008 reported a two-year survival rate of 21.2 per cent. This compared to a rate of 26.5 per cent in the group treated with TMZ and radiation therapy.
“Before 2006 and after 2006 we went from a median survival rate of 10 to 18 months for the Class III, and eight to 14 months for the Class IV, which was very similar to what was published in the 2005 randomised study,” Dr Faul said.
“Our better results, we feel, were primarily because our patients were being treated with radical chemoradiation, as well as more patients getting radical debulking surgery after 2006 than before. There was also the introduction of a more formalised treatment approach.”