Palliative radiation therapy helps improve the quality of life among patients with certain types of brain tumors, recent research has found.
The lines between which health care services are considered “palliative“ versus “curative” are often blurred. Though uncertainty persists around the use of radiation therapy in palliative care, a recent study published in the journal Clinical Oncology found measurable improvement in patients’ conditions and symptoms.
“Short-course palliative hypofractionated radiotherapy in patients with poor-prognosis [high-grade glioma] does not impair [quality of life] in the short term; but is rather associated with stable and/or improved [quality of life] scores in several domains/symptom scales,” making it a viable resource-sparing alternative regimen,” the authors indicated in the study.
Researchers used questionnaires to assess patients’ quality of life prior to receiving palliative radiation. Patients received the same questionnaire after one month of treatment, followed by every three months until disease progression or death.
Among a study population of 55 people, 49 completed the radiation treatment, and 42 participated in the surveys.
The median survival time for these patients was 10.5 months.
“There was clinically and statistically significant improvement one month after radiation therapy in patient-reported fatigue and dyspnea,” the authors reported. “A clinically meaningful improvement — meaning a 10-point or greater improvement — was also seen for insomnia. Other symptoms, such as nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea and financial difficulty, remained stable over time.”