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Milan, Italy: Mesothelioma patients are twice as likely to survive for two years or longer, if they are treated with a high dose of radiation to the affected side of the trunk, according to research presented at the ESTRO 38 conference.

Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive form of cancer that grows in the layers of tissues surrounding the lungs. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Patients typically only live for a year or two following diagnosis and treatment options are very limited.

The study looked at patients whose cancers could not be completely removed with surgery and the researchers say their findings have the potential to change treatment and outcomes for this group of patients.

The study was led by Dr Marco Trovo MD, chief of the Radiation Oncology Department at University Hospital of Udine, Italy. He said: “There is an urgent need for more effective treatments for mesothelioma. Surgery can be given to these patients, but it is often impossible to remove all of the tumour.

“Patients with mesothelioma are sometimes given radiotherapy to help control their symptoms. However, radiotherapy has evolved dramatically in the last few years so we wanted to see if it

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