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Radiation Therapy Options For Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.

E. Baldini
Published 2009 · Medicine

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The role of radiation therapy (RT) in the curative treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma remains undefined. No data clearly support treatment of unresected mesothelioma with definitive RT. Early reports showed that RT was associated with unacceptable toxicity, but recent limited data suggest that treatment with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) may be tolerable. Adjuvant RT after pleurectomy is also challenging, and similarly, no clear efficacy has been demonstrated. Some approaches, such as IMRT to the circumferential pleural envelope, appear feasible, but the fact that this approach does not address the disease in the fissures is problematic. The best setting in which to deliver RT is after extrapleural pneumonectomy, but the large and irregular target volume and multiple and adjacent sensitive normal structures make this complex. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center matched photon/electron technique is associated with acceptable efficacy and toxicity, but is limited in that it does not achieve complete coverage of the target volume to the prescription dose. The best dosimetry is achieved using IMRT, and this approach is the most promising to date. However, the toxicity profile can be severe, and the relevant predictive factors for complications are not fully understood. For these reasons, physicians should exercise caution, and IMRT after extrapleural pneumonectomy is probably best offered only by experienced teams or on protocol until further data have been gathered. New techniques such as helical tomotherapy and/or IMRT with the addition of electrons may also have a role in future treatment. RT can palliate symptoms provided the disease is confined to a tolerable radiation field.
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