About six in 10 cancer patients receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment, and half of those receive it with curative intent. Like surgery, radiation is used to treat local disease. Certain malignancies, such as lymphomas, respond well to radiation, but others, including gliomas, are highly resistant to it.
"Gliomas make up less than 1 percent of all cancers, but they are among the most treatment-refractory of all human tumors," says Arnab Chakravarti, MD, chair and professor of Radiation Oncology and co-director of the Brain Tumor Program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James).
Glioblastoma multiforme, a WHO grade IV glioma, is particularly lethal. Median survival is about one year, even with aggressive surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
"The use of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy—temozolomide—is associated with longer survival," says Chakravarti, who also holds the Max Moorehouse Chair of Cancer Research.
"The patterns of failure tend to be local rather than distant metastases, so for these tumors, local control and radiation resistance remain a serious problem."
Chakravarti, who came to Ohio State from Harvard Medical School, is working to understand the mechanisms of radiation resistance and to use this knowledge to develop novel therapies and improve survival, particularly in glioblastoma patients.
Read more about Chakravarti.