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Clinical Trial Tests New Cancer Radiation Treatment

Lung cancer X-ray

(National Cancer Institute)

A clinical study by Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario, Canada is testing a new form of radiation therapy to treat cancerous tumors. The phase 2 trial aims to gauge effectiveness of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy or SABR on cancer patients in Canada and Europe.

SABR delivers large concentrated doses of radiotherapy to precise areas, often with few side-effects, according to the Lawson Institute. The technique addresses a problem from metastatic cancer that spreads from the original site in the body to other organs, such as the brain, liver, or lungs. When cancer spreads in this way, the chances of survival for the patient usually diminish.

The therapy delivers radiation to small tumors in one to three weeks of treatment. The technique allows for more precise  radiation treatments, delivered more accurately than with older treatments. This more precise radiation could also reduce side effects encountered in other types of treatment, such as chemotherapy, and by improve chances of controlling the cancer.

The trial, entitled Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy for Comprehensive Treatment of Oligometastatic Tumors (SABR-COMET), will assess SABR’s impact on patient survival, side effects, and quality of life. Over the next four years, 99 cancer patients in Canada and Europe will be randomized to receive either the SABR treatment or the standard-of-care treatment: palliative radiotherapy and chemotherapy, as determined by the patient’s oncologist.

Lawson Institute’s David Palma, who leads the study, says SABR is not a new technique, but the trial provides an opportunity to better gauge its potential as a treatment. “Although some [medical] centers have been using SABR … with promising results,” says Palma, “the COMET study will allow us to see if it really provides a benefit for these patients.”

Read more: New Radiation Therapy Directly Attacks Cancer Cells

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