London, Sept. 18 (Reuters): Accelerating radiotherapy treatments for patients suffering from head and neck cancer improves their quality of life and odds of beating the disease, Danish scientists said today.
In findings that could change how standard radiotherapy is given, Professor Jens Overgaard, of Aarhus University Hospital, found that increasing radiotherapy sessions from five to six times a week makes a difference.
“By making a small modification in radiotherapy we had a significant improvement in the outcome. We have more patients who are cured, more patients are not losing their voice box and more patients who will not die from the cancer,” Overgaard said.
“We are giving six treatments instead of five. It is a very simple thing.”
He and his colleagues in DAHANCA, the Danish head and neck cancer group, will report their findings at the Federation of European Cancer Societies ECCO 12 meeting in Copenhagen next week and in the Lancet medical journal.
About 10,000 doctors, nurses and researchers from around the world are expected to attend the five-day meeting. It will cover all types of a disease that accounts for over one in eight deaths worldwide, more than the percentage of deaths due to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.