External radiotherapy protocol improves quality of life for patients with lung cancer

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According to data from the American Cancer Society, Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer that affects both men and women and about 14% of all new cancers affect this organ. As for the Mexican population, Dr. Mónika Blake Cerda, a radio-oncologist at the ABC Medical Center, points out that the percentage of lung cancer is very high, since it does not show symptoms until the disease is in advanced stages. “For example, in the National Institute of Cancerology the percentage of patients who already have metastases at the time of diagnosis is above 80%.”

He also stressed that, although the figures for this condition in Mexico are not known, in the population in general, it is estimated that it is high, especially due to exposure to tobacco smoke, firewood and environmental pollution, said that every time it occurs more in non-smokers and young women who never smoked.

According to the specialist, there have been demographic changes in this disease, since before it was more frequent in older adults who smoked all their lives, that is, the population changed and there are more and more young patients between 40 and 50 years old than ever before. They smoked, it is usually more frequent in men, however, there is no specific predisposition.

Added to this, and according to Dr. Oscar Arrieta, coordinator of the Lung Cancer Clinic of the National Institute of Cancer, patients with lung cancer suffer alterations in the intakes of respiratory function caused by the tumor or persistent disease as chronic bronchitis or COPD.

Given this situation, two years ago, the ABC Medical Center and the National Institute of Cancerology (INCan) initiated a protocol (SBRT) of research in patients with lung cancer, which was presented to the scientific and ethics committees of INCan and the ABC, with the objective of knowing the control and survival of patients with advanced disease treated with stereotactic radiotherapy.

However, some health centers in the country do not have this type of therapy, as in the case of the National Cancer Institute, unlike the ABC Medical Center that does. Therefore, both institutions came together to treat patients of INCan in the ABC, offering them treatment, but without charging them.

In the process of the protocol, the INCan was in charge of evaluating the patient who would be a candidate for this therapy, which was sent with his file to the ABC Medical Center. Once he receives the radiotherapy, he returns to the institute to continue his treatment.

It is important to point out that the ABC does not charge anything to the patients and the radiation oncologists do not receive any remuneration for their work either. “It is a collaboration between public and private initiative, giving favorable results for the benefit of patients and increasing knowledge about this type of treatment, which is a good example of how you can work together,” said Dr. Arrieta.

He also explains that, in terms of treatment, external radiotherapy is applied to patients, however, this causes damage to the lung that can be transient or permanent, affecting the quality of life of patients. “We needed a change in the tests of respiratory function, which is achieved with stereotactic radiotherapy, which is a treatment with ionizing radiation in a very specific site, which reduces the effects on the lung, avoiding a greater damage than that produced by external radiotherapy. “

Similarly, the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases is responsible for respiratory function tests, assesses that treatment with radiotherapy does not actually cause lung damage, go before radiotherapy to have baseline respiratory function tests and then to take control every three months, highlighted that there is no considerable lung damage.

“We measure the respiratory function tests in a very exhaustive way before and after the treatment with stereotactic radiotherapy, in this way we try to evaluate the short and long term effect of radiotherapy, what we find is that the effects are much smaller, since patients lose around 5% of lung function compared with 20% or 25% with external radiotherapy, thus improving their quality of life and avoiding adverse effects such as inflammation of the lung, “said the oncologist.

It should be noted that before the patient is subjected to stereotactic radiotherapy, they receive chemotherapy, biological treatment or immunotherapy, depending on the characteristics of the tumor, if the patient has a good response, stereotactic radiotherapy is applied to eliminate lung metastases, ” a very strict selection of the patient, must have good functional status, limited number of metastases and that had a response to previous treatment. “

For its part, the ABC specialist says that this radiation therapy benefits patients who have metastatic lung cancer, which has shown increased local control and survival in many cases, through radiation that is administered externally, which makes It is a non-invasive treatment, it does not hurt or feel anything.

“This type of technology allows us to give very high doses in the tumor and not radiate in a harmful way the healthy organs that we want to protect, especially the healthy lung tissue. It is a targeted and specific therapy, with a system of millimeter verification, which has the ability to follow the tumor and see how the patient breathes in real time. “

So far 30 patients have been treated, recently, a new agreement was approved to treat 30 more patients in a new period of two years from 2019 to 2021. “We thank the ABC Medical Center for collaborating with us. We are signing the second agreement to continue with this study and make a broader publication of what has been generated, more experience and confirm the results we have with stereotactic radiotherapy, “concluded the INCan specialist.


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