Radiation Can Zap Cancer That Has Spread

Precisely targeted radiation therapy can eradicate tumors that have spread to other parts of the body, offering more months or years of life to patients who have no other options, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

They said new radiation techniques can attack metastases — tumors that have spread — one by one.

Experiments in 29 patients showed the radiation stopped all the tumors in six, or 21 percent, of the patients, for anywhere between 10 months and more than two years.

“This was proof of principle in patients who had failed the standard therapies and had few, if any, remaining options,” said Dr. Ralph Weichselbaum of the University of Chicago Medical Center, who led the study.

Treatment doesn’t always work
But the results were inconsistent — in another six patients, only the treated tumors grew, while in yet another six, untreated tumors remained and grew, the team at the University of Chicago Medical Center reported in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

In eight of the patients, new tumors appeared but the treated tumors were stopped.

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