A world first clinical trial has found that radiation therapy following lymph node surgery can dramatically reduce the recurrence of melanoma.
Conducted over 11 years with participants from seven cancer centres in Australia and New Zealand, the trial found that post-operative radiation therapy reduced melanoma recurrence by as much as one third compared to historical results with surgery alone. Presenting the results to the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia’s Annual Scientific Meeting in Brisbane today (18/11), Associate Professor Bryan Burmeister, of Princess Alexandra Hospital, said the oncology community had long suspected the benefits of radiation therapy, but this was the first “real evidence” of its potential to reduce recurrence and would be of international significance. “As oncologists we have been frustrated by the unacceptable level of recurrence of melanoma following lymph node surgery, which is why these findings are so exciting,” A/Professor Burmeister said. “In this trial we saw recurrence of just 6.8 per cent compared to between 15 and 30 per cent in standard surgery without radiation therapy.” A/Professor Burmeister said while the results were encouraging, as the first such trial it needed to be viewed in context and the evidence confirmed by further studies. “We have already taken the next step and are recruiting for a randomised trial, which will give us much greater certainty. This trial is more than half-way to its accrual target and is expected to be completed in 2007.” President of the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia, Dr Stephen Ackland, said the findings would be keenly studied both in Australia and overseas. “We already have international interest with approaches from the UK and Netherlands to join the randomised trial,” Dr Ackland said. The research was conducted under the auspices of the Trans Tasman Radiation Oncology Group. The Clinical Oncological Society of Australiaâs Annual Scientific Meeting is the country’s largest gathering of multidisciplinary health professionals working in cancer.(Source: The Cancer Council: November 2005.)