February 15, 2012

Lung Cancer Treatment Doesn’t Improve Survival Rates

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A frequently administered treatment for lung cancer, postoperative radiation therapy (PORT), has been found to not extend life in patients with advanced lung cancer.

Patients who have non-small cell lung cancer most likely will have surgery to remove the tumor, but patients with stage III disease with an involvement of the lymph node called N2 will often be advised to use PORT.

Over 1,000 cases of stage III non-small cell lung cancer with N2 lymph nodes between 1992 and 2005 were examined by using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results(SEER)-Medicare registry. It linked cancer incidence and survival data to files of Medicare records. Approximately 54 percent of patients aged 66 and older received PORT after tumor was removed. The research found that three-year and one-year survival was not improved in the patients who received PORT compared to those who did not. As a result, researchers believe that the use of PORT should be limited until further discovery can be made.

“While some analyses have shown improvement with PORT, the data are not strong enough to support using it as a standard of care in older adults with this type of lung cancer. Our results show that we need more information about the potential benefits of radiation therapy before it is used routinely, especially considering the side effects associated with it. Our study indicates that clinicians should refrain from PORT in elderly patients with this cancer subtype until we know more. A randomized and controlled trial is required to fully assess any benefit, and such trials are ongoing now,” Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and lead author on the study, Juan Wisnivesky, M.D.,DrPH., was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Cancer, February 2012