Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Terminal cancer patients do not receive appropriate radiation therapy

A new analysis has found that a considerable proportion of patients with end-stage or terminal cancer do not benefit from palliative radiation therapy (radiotherapy) despite spending most of their remaining life undergoing treatments. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates that greater efforts are needed to tailor appropriately palliative radiotherapy to patients with end-stage cancer.

Palliative radiotherapy for end-stage cancer patients is intended to control cancer-related pain and other symptoms and to help patients maintain a good quality of life when long-term cancer control is not possible.

By reducing the number of cancer cells, palliative radiotherapy can ease pain, stop bleeding, and relieve pressure, even when the cancer cannot be controlled. However, for many patients, the treatments are not effective. In addition, if patients are close to death, they may wish to stop treatments if they would like to die at home.

To investigate the adequacy of palliative radiotherapy in end-stage cancer patients, Stephan Gripp, MD, of the University Hospital Duesseldorf in Germany and colleagues evaluated the treatment of patients who were referred for palliative radiotherapy at their hospital from December 2003 to July 2004 and who died within 30 days. The investigators identified 33 such patients.

Radiotherapy was delivered to 91 percent of patients. Half of the patients spent more than 60 percent of their remaining lifespan on radiotherapy, and in only 58 percent of patients was radiotherapy completed. Many physicians overestimated the length of time their patients would survive. Among this group who died within one month, about one in five physicians predicted more than six months survival. In addition, progressive complaints were noted in 52 percent of patients, and palliation or pain reduction was reported by only 26 percent of patients.

The authors concluded that radiotherapy was not appropriately customized to these cancer patients, many of whom did not benefit despite spending most of their remaining life on therapy. Excessive radiotherapy in end-stage cancer patients may reflect overoptimistic prognoses and unrealistic concerns about radiation damage.

"Radiation oncologists have fallen short in accurately determining the life span of terminally ill cancer patients. This has resulted in unduly prolonged radiation therapy regimens that often go uncompleted due to death or withdrawal from treatment," said Dr. Gripp. He added that physicians need better methods for estimating how long their end-stage cancer patients will live. He also recommended that they use shorter-duration radiation schedules for palliative radiotherapy.

Article: "Palliative radiotherapy tailored to life expectancy in end-stage cancer patients: reality or myth?" Stephan Gripp, Sibylle Mjartan, Edwin Boelke, and Reinhardt Willers. CANCER; Published Online: April 12, 2010 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr. 25112).

Author Contact: To arrange an interview with Dr. Gripp, please contact Susanne Dopheide of the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Press Office:+49 211 81-04173 or

Claire Greenwell | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>