The drug amifostine has been found to ease most of the side affects associated with radiation therapy and also make cancer more susceptible to radiation, according to doctors in Brazil. Their findings are published in the March 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation
Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of ASTRO, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.
The reserachers decided to check out data from already published studies to evaluate if adding amifostine to radiation therapy decreased the occurrence of side effects like difficulty in swallowing, dry mouth, lung inflammation, bladder inflammation, problems with the esophagus and inflammation of the mucous membranes. Sometimes these side effects cause significant problems and even force the treatment to be stopped while the patient recovers. The study also wanted to find out if amifostine protected the cancer from radiation. The researchers evaluated the effects of amifostine in 14 randomized, controlled trials in which 1,451 patients were enrolled. These patients were split into two groups, one receiving radiation alone, while the other received radiation as well as amifostine. It was found that contrary to fears, amifostine rendered the tumor more susceptible to radiation and patients on amifostine were more likely to have their cancer completely cured by radiation. But amifostine did have some side effects like nausea and vomiting. "Our research shows that adding amifostine to radiation therapy helps reduce side effects while at the same time making the radiation treatments more effective at killing the cancer cells," said Andre Deeke Sasse, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Nucleo Brasileiro de Oncologia Baseada em Evidencias in Sao Paolo, Brazil. "We recommend that patients undergoing radiation therapy for cancer ask their doctor about adding amifostine to their treatment."
For more information on radiation therapy for cancer, please visit www.rtanswers.org.
Contact: Nick Lashinsky
American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology