Chemo after radiation improves survival in adults with brain cancer

Volume 3, Issue 3, 2014


Patients who received chemo plus radiation had better outcomes than those who had radiation alone.

Photo of Jan C. Buckner, M.D., deputy director, Cancer Practice, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Jan C. Buckner, M.D.

A chemotherapy regimen consisting of procarbazine, CCNU and vincristine (PCV) administered after radiation therapy improved progression-free survival and overall survival in adults with low-grade gliomas when compared with radiation therapy alone, a Mayo Clinic study found.

The findings, part of a phase III clinical trial, were presented at the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting by Jan C. Buckner, M.D., deputy director for cancer practice in the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

"On average, patients who received PCV lived 5.5 years longer than those who received radiation alone," Dr. Buckner said. "These findings build on results published online July 30, 2012, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which showed that PCV given with radiation therapy at the time of initial diagnosis prolongs progression-free survival but not overall survival."

The trial, RTOG 9802, enrolled 251 patients with low-grade gliomas between October 1998 and June 2002 to address the role of chemotherapy after radiation treatment. Patients enrolled were at high risk compared with other low-grade glioma patients because they were 40 or older or had an incomplete surgical removal of their tumor if they were younger than 40.

Investigators also found that patients with oligodendroglioma had better outcomes than did those with astrocytoma or oligoastrocytoma. Women with a low-grade glioma also had better outcomes.

The next step is to study tumor tissue from participating patients to identify biomarkers that will allow researchers to determine which patients might benefit the most from specific therapies.