Some patients with head and neck cancer can be safely spared the risk and expense of surgery by undergoing a CT scan to predict whether the disease is in check after radiation therapy, according to study findings University of Florida doctors released today (Oct. 18) at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.
Researchers with the UF Shands Cancer Center have identified criteria doctors can use to evaluate CT scans four weeks after patients undergo initial treatment. If these criteria are met, there is a 94 percent likelihood a patients lymph nodes are cancer free, said Stanley L. Liauw, M.D., a resident in radiation oncology. Using a CT scan was found to be much more accurate than relying on a physical exam to assess response to treatment.
Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat the more than 40,000 U.S. patients a year who develop advanced head and neck cancer. After radiation therapy, doctors often operate to remove affected lymph nodes. But UF physicians say in some cases surgery is unnecessary, and can increase recovery time, lead to infection and possibly compromise a patients quality of life.
Denise Trunk | EurekAlert!
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