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Release: Nov. 7, 2000

UI invites people with a metastatic brain tumor to participate in a treatment study

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa is one of seven centers participating in a clinical trial testing a new treatment for metastatic brain tumors and invites affected people to participate in the study. Standard treatment involves surgical removal of the tumor followed by radiation therapy. The trial will test the effect of adding chemotherapy to the standard treatment by placing a chemotherapeutic drug into the cavity left in the brain by removal of the tumor.

People ages 18 or older who have a single, operable brain tumor that has metastasized (spread) from either breast or lung cancer and who have a life expectancy of more than 12 weeks may be eligible for the trial. The systemic cancer (breast or lung) must be pathologically confirmed, and the brain tumor must be diagnosed with an MRI scan. Female participants must not be pregnant. Participants must not have had prior brain irradiation or surgery for intraparenchymal brain neoplasm, nor have any known central nervous system meningeal involvement with cancer.

Eligible patients will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group will receive surgery to remove the tumor followed by radiation therapy. The other group will receive the surgery that includes the localized chemotherapy, followed by the radiation therapy.

For the chemotherapy, several small discs of a polymer material infused with the chemotherapeutic agent carmustine (BCNU) will be placed in the brain, lining the cavity left by surgical removal of the tumor. These discs, known as Gliadel ‚ wafers, will then slowly dissolve over time, releasing the chemotherapy directly into the brain tissue. The trial will investigate whether this localized chemotherapy can help prevent recurrence of a metastatic brain tumor after it has been surgically removed. There is approximately a 30 to 50 percent recurrence rate after surgery and radiation.

After surgery and two to four weeks of recuperation all participants will undergo radiation therapy for about four and a half weeks. Participants will be evaluated in the Neuro Oncology Clinic three weeks later and will have follow-up assessments every two months thereafter.

"We hope to find out whether this new approach can prolong the survival rate and improve the quality of life for people with a metastatic brain tumor," said Timothy Ryken, M.D., UI assistant professor of neurosurgery.

People who would like more information about this trial or physicians who wish to refer a patient should call Ryken at (319) 356-3853, or Gatana Stoner at (319) 353-6679.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.