Alternative cancer therapy found effective

April 22, 1999

Sources: Yomiuri Shimbun



CHIBA -- Researchers at the National Cancer Center Hospital East in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, have discovered that the combined use of radiology and chemotherapy is effective in the treatment of cancer of the esophagus, a condition for which surgery has long been considered the most effective treatment, doctors at the hospital said Wednesday.  

A research team at the Health and Welfare Ministry will lead nationwide clinical trials of the new treatment starting this summer, the doctors said. 

A combination of the two therapies is recommended for patients for whom surgery might be dangerous. Operations involving the removal of cancerous tissue from the esophagus often take a heavy physical toll on the patient and have a high fatality rate.  

Patients undergo radiology while simultaneously being intravenously administered chemotherapy drugs 5-FU and cisplatin.  

The hospital has already used the treatment on 55 patients considered unfit for surgery because of complications such as cardiac problems and diabetes. 

Of the total, 57 percent survived more than three years, compared with 53 percent among those who underwent surgery.  

Although surgery is usually used to treat cancer of the esophagus, the procedure is traumatic as it involves surgery on the neck, chest and stomach. Five percent of such patients die on the operating table, and those who survive often experience difficulty eating.  

"A number of patients have trouble eating after the operation. The new treatment is better in terms of the (postoperative) quality of life of patients, and we would like to prove its effectiveness scientifically," Atsushi Otsu, a physician at the hospital, said.