Glioblastoma clinical trial results indicate that a combined therapy involving chemotherapy drug temozolomide plus a short course of radiation therapy extends life of older patients who have malignant brain cancer by two months compared to those who have been treated with radiation alone.
The results of the trial have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine wherein scientists have noted that improved survival for 45 per cent of the study participants almost doubled – from 7 months to 13.5 months. Researchers note that all patients benefited to a varying degree and the study confirmed the predictive nature of the molecular marker in the largest sample to date where the status was known.
Researchers are optimistic that the combined therapy will be adopted as a treatment strategy for all patients 65 or older suffering from malignant brain cancer because it makes a significant difference in the course of this terrible disease.
From 2007 to 2013, the randomized Phase III clinical trial enrolled 562 patients with glioblastoma, the most common malignant brain cancer in adults. Average age of onset is 65 and there is no cure. The incidence of glioblastoma is increasing in aging societies with half of all patients now 65 or older. In the study, patients ranged in age from 65 to 90; two-thirds were 70 or older.
This was the first study to investigate combining the drug with radiotherapy in older patients. Two previous studies had looked at either the role of the drug alone or the role of radiotherapy alone in treating glioblastoma.
Older patients have a hard time tolerating the six weeks of radiation therapy plus the drug regime and that’s where this particular treatment option could appeal to patients as well as their doctors.
Temozolomide is an oral chemotherapy (taken as a pill) which is extremely well tolerated, and participants in both arms of the study reported no differences in quality of life. Scientists involved with the clinical trail reveal that the drug is well tolerated and there is no downside in administering it to all glioblastoma patients.