Post-Surgical Radiation Offers Benefits

Mon, 11/02/2009 - 5:02am

According to a new study presented at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), high-risk melanoma patients who are treated with radiation after surgery have a significantly lower risk of their cancer returning to the lymph nodes (19 percent), as those who do not (31 percent).

“Results of this trial now confirm the place of radiation therapy in the management of patients who have high risk features following surgery for melanoma involving the lymph nodes,” Bryan Burmeister, M.D., and lead author of the study said. “In some institutions, radiation treatment is routine protocol, while in others, the protocol has been either for patients to just be observed, or receive some type of adjuvant chemotherapy or immunotherapy. I encourage patients with melanoma to talk to their doctors about whether radiation should be added to their treatment plan.”

This multi-center, randomized trial examined the effects of external beam radiation treatment after surgery for melanoma patients who had a high risk of the cancer returning to the lymph nodes (regional recurrence). From March 2002 to September 2007, 217 patients from 16 cancer centers who had undergone a lymphadenectomy for melanoma cancer were randomized to receive radiation treatment within 12 weeks after surgery, or be observed, with a median follow-up of 27 months.

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