Apply radiotherapy in a targeted manner, so that only cancer cells receive the radiation, is what a group of Spanish researchers has achieved thanks to a new technique that is much less toxic for the patient because it does not harm the areas that are not affected by cancer.
They designed an individual therapy for each patient and adjusted the area with risk of recurrence that had to be treated, in order to minimize the amount of tissue to be irradiated.
The new treatment, which has been developed by scientists from the University of Granada and the Virgen de las Nieves University Hospital, has been successfully tested in 80 people suffering from cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, and those that had had their tumor and the ganglia affected by the disease. This type of cancer often requires the use of radiotherapy and chemotherapy after surgery to prevent the reappearance of the lesions. However, these are very aggressive techniques for such a delicate area, and patients often have to abandon the treatment early because it causes the appearance of sores on the mucous membranes, with consequent pain and great difficulties in feeding.
In the study, which was carried out for three years, the surgeon and the pathologist collaborated to determine the affected lymph nodes and to design an individual therapy for each patient in which they adjusted the area with risk of recurrence that should be treated, with the objective of minimizing the amount of tissue to be irradiated and, consequently, the harmful effects that the radiation causes to the patient. In this way, they managed to reduce the volume of irradiated tissue in 44% of the patients included in the trial, and in addition, 95% were able to complete radiotherapy treatment, suffering less toxic effects and without a higher proportion of recurrences in Comparison with usual therapy.