Genetic Marker Identifies Brain Cancer Patients Who Benefit from Chemo-Radiation Combination

Patients with anaplastic oligodendroglial tumors harboring certain chromosomal deletions have a reduced risk of dying after receiving radiation and chemotherapy.

Patients with anaplastic oligodendroglial tumors harboring certain chromosomal deletions had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying after receiving radiation followed by chemotherapy versus radiation alone, according to a phase 3 study.

Researchers examined 368 newly diagnosed patients with this subtype of brain cancer, both with and without these specific genetic mutations. The group receiving radiation followed by six cycles of a combination chemotherapy regimen known as PCV—procarbazine, CCNU (lomustine) and vincristine—had a median progression-free survival of 24.3 months and a median overall survival rate of 42.3 months. Those on radiation alone had 13.2 months of median progression-free survival and a median overall survival rate of 30.6 months. When researchers analyzed the group by genetic subtype, they discovered that the 80 patients who actually benefited from the radiation-chemotherapy regimen had tumors containing deletions in chromosomes 1 and 19.

Lead author Martin van den Bent, MD, of Erasmus Medical Center in The Netherlands, explained that not only do patients with this challenging form of brain cancer have a better treatment option, but also researchers have a genetic marker to help determine which patients will be most likely to have a favorable response.