• Kirk Hartley

New Science from Australia for Persons with Mesothelioma

Courtesy of a friend in Australia, here is a link to a story on new radiotherapy science developed in Australia that is bringing some new hope for perhaps two more years of life for persons suffering from mesothelioma. Key excerpts are as follows:

Breakthrough in fight against mesothelioma

By Lindy Kerin for AM

AM abc.net.au/am

Posted Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:11am AEDT Updated Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:22am AEDT A new radiation technique can improve the life expectancy for sufferers.

A new radiation technique can improve the life expectancy for sufferers. (www.sxc.hu: Adam Ciesielski, file photo)

Australian experts are offering new hope to mesothelioma sufferers, claiming a breakthrough in the treatment of the aggressive cancer.

Specialists at the Austin Health Centre in Victoria have discovered a new radiation technique which can improve the life expectancy for sufferers.

Every year, around 700 Australians find out they have mesothelioma. The deadly cancer, which attacks the lungs, is mostly caused by exposure to asbestos.

On average sufferers are given just two years to live after diagnosis.

Dr Malcolm Feigen, a Radiation Oncologist at the Austin Health Centre in Victoria, has for the past seven years been developing new techniques for treating mesothelioma, involving high doses of radiotherapy.

“Gradually with new technologies and better equipment we’ve been able to increase our doses and look at the results by doing PET scans before they start the radiotherapy and PET scans after they’ve finished to see what difference we’ve made,” he said.

“And we’ve been very impressed that in most cases there’s a considerable improvement in the activity of the tumour masses that we’ve given high doses of radiotherapy. And most patients have got through the course of treatment with no major side effects and some have had long-term benefits.”

Dr Feigen says patients treated only with chemotherapy mostly have short-term benefits and then the cancer comes back.

“But with radiotherapy it doesn’t come back in the same area and if we find patients early enough we may be able to stop any further developments of their disease,” he said.

All up, 13 patients were involved in the pilot program.


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