New Chemotherapy Combination Causes Brain Tumors to Regress

University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Last Modified: May 15, 1999

Researchers have found that a chemotherapy regimen, including procarbazine, CCNU and Vincristine (PVC), given before radiation therapy to patients with low-grade oligodendroglioma or oligoastrocytoma brain tumors, causes tumors to regress in 28 percent of patients.

Jan Buckner, MD, medical oncologist at Mayo Clinic and colleagues entered 31 patients into this North Central Cancer Treatment Group trial. Of that number, 27 were evaluable. Following chemotherapy, an MRI revealed that compared with a baseline MRI, tumors regressed in eight patients, or 28 percent; tumors stabilized in 16 patients, or 56 percent; and tumors progressed in three patients, or 11 percent.

This study may challenge views about the "blood-brain barrier," namely, that drugs do not effectively pass from the blood to the brain. Some drugs are believed to be able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, and this combination of chemotherapy drugs may be among those. In this study, the blood-brain barrier did not prohibit effective chemotherapy for a significant number of brain tumor patients. This study may also challenge the assumption that patients with slow-growing brain tumors do not benefit from chemotherapy.