Study shows radiation increases survival chances for endometrial cancer patients

A recent U study found that women with Stage I endometrial cancer have a greater chance of long-term survival if they receive radiation treatment after surgery, said David Gaffney, associate professor of radiation oncology.

Endometrial cancer originates in the inner lining of the uterus and, according to Gaffney, is the most frequent gynecological cancer in women. About 90 percent of women will survive with treatment, and the cancer is less deadly than ovarian cancer. However, treatment is still an area of concern, he said.

“The standard management for women with endometrial cancer is surgery (to remove the uterus), which usually works,” Gaffney said. However, “patients with radiation treatment did display a better survival benefit,” he said.

The study focused on approximately 21,000 patients who had been treated with surgery; 20 percent then had radiation therapy and the remaining 80 had no additional treatment.

“Previous studies have been confusing,” Gaffney said, “so we wanted to see if there really is a survival benefit with radiation treatment.”

Gaffney said that the one flaw with the U study is that it was done retrospectively, “nevertheless the information should be useful when added to previous studies,” he said.

Gaffney said the main purpose of the study is to allow a better selection of treatment for patients who have had surgery.

“Ultimately, we want to provide the best therapy for patients and cure as many people as possible,” Gaffney said.

The study, co-authored by Gaffney and Christopher Lee of the Huntsman Cancer Hospital, was published in the Jan. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Morgan Ratcliffe