August 17, 2006

Proton beams control liver tumors

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Patients with liver tumors
called hepatocellular carcinomas and who have few other
treatment options are likely to benefit from proton beam
radiation therapy, Japanese researchers report in the journal

Lead investigator Dr. Masaharu Hata told Reuters Health:
"Proton beam therapy was given safely and effectively to a wide
spectrum of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma."

Hata and colleagues at the University of Tsukuba took a
look back at 21 patients with liver tumors for whom other
treatment modalities were contraindicated or not feasible
because of coexisting diseases such as severe cirrhosis, kidney
failure, and severe heart disease.

Seven of the patients had multiple liver tumors. The median
tumor diameter was 40 mm. No patients had regional or distant

At a median of 3.3 years after proton beam radiation, all
but one of the tumors was controlled. At 5 years, the objective
response rate was 81 percent and the primary site control rate
was 93 percent.

Four of 11 patients who developed recurrent liver tumors
had a second course of proton beam therapy, which controlled
the tumors.

At 5 years, overall survival was 33 percent and
cause-specific survival was 67 percent.

Proton beam therapy was well tolerated.

"The results suggested that this method was tolerable and
effective," concluded Hata, "even for patients who had severe
coexisting diseases or unfavorable conditions for whom other
treatment modalities were contraindicated or unfeasible."

Cancer August 2006.