The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has launched a world-first clinical trial aimed at extending the lives of people with brain tumours.
In the trial, which is at an early stage, a team of radiologists, neurosurgeons, oncologists, nurses, physicists, and pathologists are using detailed MRI scans and highly targeted radiotherapy before surgery with the aim of reducing the likelihood of tumours growing back quickly.
The trial, which focuses on glioblastomas, a fast-growing and aggressive brain cancer, seeks to challenge the standard treatment sequence of surgery, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The trial has been named POBIG (PreOperative Brain Irradiation in Glioblastoma).
While surgery will always be “essential” for patients with brain tumours, researchers are aiming to target all tumour cells at an earlier stage by giving highly targeted radiotherapy before surgery.
Patients in the trial have an MRI scan to help the surgeons best estimate where remnant cells are most likely to be left after they operate.
A single dose of radiation is then aimed precisely at that area. Patients then have surgery followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy, as is standard practice.
The trial is expected to challenge the standard medical practice in the hope of improving outcomes for brain tumour patients. The trial’s results so far have been “very encouraging,” according to Dr Gerben Borst, a radiation oncologist at the Christie NHS foundation trust in Manchester, who is leading the trial.