New Mayo Clinic study hopes to help glioblastoma patients live longer

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Glioblastoma is a deadly form of brain cancer affecting thousands of people each year. It’s the disease that took the life of late Arizona senator John McCain. It’s a disease often caught too late and has a low survivability rate.

But thanks to a new study, there’s newfound hope for glioblastoma patients.

Mayo Clinic researchers in Arizona have completed phase II of a study that is showing promise in helping people live longer while maintaining their quality of life. It’s a new approach to treatment that even has fewer side effects and takes a shorter time than traditional treatments.

Dr. Sujay Vora, a radiation oncologist at Mayo Clinic Arizona, has been studying ways to treat brain cancer for decades and has been at the forefront of this study. Dr. Vora described the cancer as being like “tentacles” in the way it spreads and gets into the crevices of the brain, making it hard for surgeons to treat.

“What we’re trying to do at Mayo, we’re using more advanced forms of medical imaging so we can actually find those tentacles, find the areas that are biologically aggressive using special medical imaging called 18F-DOPA PET,” explained Dr. Vora. Mayo then uses a type of radiation called proton beam therapy, which delivers radiation only to the specific parts of the brain they want targeted, and thus protects more healthy brain tissue and reduces the risk of side effects associated with the treatment.

Richard Casper was one of the patients at Mayo Clinic Arizona that went through the study while battling glioblastoma. Patients are usually only given a six to nine month prognosis, and with Casper already being in his 80’s, his prognosis seemed especially bleak. But through the clinical trial, Casper lived for over two years with glioblastoma, twice as long as originally expected.

“It provides hope to other patients,” said Dr. Vora.

Dr. Sujay Vora, Radiation Oncologist, Mayo Clinic Arizona

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