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Upstate Cancer Center Founding Director Jeffrey Bogart, MD.

Upstate Cancer Center doctor to present results of clinical trial for small cell lung cancer at American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting

Jeffrey Bogart, MD, interim director of the Upstate Cancer Center, will present findings of a lung cancer treatment clinical trial later this week at one of the largest gatherings of cancer experts in the world.

Bogart, who also serves as chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Upstate, will present the results of a clinical trial for patients with small cell lung cancer at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, which runs June 4 to 8. Bogart will present evidence that shows when treating small cell lung cancer, once daily radiation therapy treatment for seven weeks is just as effective as twice daily radiation treatment for three weeks.  

Bogart was principal investigator of the trial, which included more than 700 patients throughout the United States from 2008 to 2019. About 30,000 people are diagnosed with small cell lung cancer each year. That type of cancer, which is treated with chemotherapy and radiation, accounts for about 15 to 20 percent of all lung cancer patients, Bogart said.

A clinical trial about 30 years ago showed that radiation administered twice a day for three weeks was a more effective treatment than the same dose of radiation once a day for five weeks, Bogart said. Despite undergoing radiation for a shorter period of time – three weeks compared to five – receiving two doses of radiation in one day is difficult for many patients, he said. Twice daily radiation must be administered at least six hours apart, which means the patient has to be at the hospital twice in one day. That’s a tiring regimen and can be difficult for those who don’t live nearby.

The clinical trial, which is the largest trial in limited stage small cell lung cancer ever performed, showed minimal differences between the two regimens.

“Even though the trial from 30 years ago showed that more patients were cured and alive five years later with the twice a day, many patients are not able to make it twice a day and there was some concern that the side effects might be greater with the twice a day,” he said. “So most patients in the country, even though we had good evidence to treat twice a day, were treated with once a day. It’s only until this study that we actually have evidence that supports that this is an appropriate thing to do.”

Bogart said that prior to this study only about 15 percent of patients nationwide opted for twice daily radiation treatments.

“Before we had the results of this study, because we had good scientific evidence that twice a day was better, I would recommend twice a day for all of my patients,” Bogart said. “There were some patients where it was not feasible, but now with the results of this study it opens up the options scientifically. There’s enough support to do either one now. This shows in a scientific fashion that patients are not being undertreated if they have the once a day.”

The clinical trial was conducted with patients from across the United States, including at Upstate. The Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, for which Bogart is chair of the Radiation Oncology Committee, oversaw the trial.

The ASCO annual meeting is virtual this year and Bogart is scheduled to present on Sunday, June 6. The meeting is attended by more than 40,000 people annually.   

“Part of the excitement is that Upstate not only offers clinical trials, we have folks here who are involved in developing and designing and running those clinical trials for the country,” Bogart said, noting that hundreds of trial participants were critical to its success. “It’s always good for the patients that were involved to know that their commitment really resulted in something we can use to help guide treatment for future patients.”