Radiation-Immunotherapy Combination Can Slow Tumor Growth for Some Patients with Stage IV Cancer

According to results from a study presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), treatment with radiation therapy and immunotherapy can stop the growth of tumors by stimulating the body’s immune system to attack the cancer.

In the study, one hundred patients with stage IV cancer that had spread to their lungs or liver were enrolled in a trial examining a combination of high-dose radiation therapy plus immunotherapy for patients with end-stage cancer.  All patients received four cycles of Yervoy©, a type of immunotherapy drug, and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) to the site(s) of metastasis in either the liver or the lungs.  Radiation therapy was given either at the same time or before or after the immunotherapy.  Between 30 and 60 percent of the patients found that their cancer stopped spreading.

James Welsh, M.D., lead author of the study commented, “This combination of immunotherapy and radiation therapy was safe and well-tolerated by patients with late-stage cancers. We were surprised that a large percentage of patients achieved stable disease several months after treatment, meaning that while their tumors didn’t shrink, they did stop growing.  It appears that the radiation helped turn the tumor into a vaccine to stimulate an immune response.”

At New Jersey CyberKnife, we administer SBRT using the CyberKnife® Radiosurgery System.  CyberKnife is a painless, nonsurgical outpatient cancer treatment with minimal to no side effects.  During the CyberKnife treatment, the System delivers high doses of radiation to both primary and metastatic lung and liver tumors with extreme precision.  Working in conjunction with the CyberKnife System is the Synchrony® Respiratory Tracking System, which enables the radiation beam to track tumor movement in real time and allows patients to breathe normally during their treatment sessions.  CyberKnife allows physicians to zero in on a moving target, the tumor, and irradiate it while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.  As a result, the CyberKnife treatment is more comfortable for patients, radiation is delivered more accurately, and treatments can be completed in one to five sessions.

For more information on how New Jersey CyberKnife treats cancer with CyberKnife technology, please contact the center today.