July 27, 2009

Surgery an option for advanced lung cancer

Lung cancer significantly prolongs survival without progression of the cancer, but does not dramatically improve overall survival, U.S. researchers found.

Lead author Dr. Kathy Albain of Loyola University Health System's Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center and colleagues said the patients who did appear to have a major benefit from surgery were those in whom a section of the lung was removed, rather than the entire lung.

The study included patients with non-small cell cancer, which accounts for about 80 percent of all lung cancers.

The patients had stage III cancer, in which the cancer had spread to lymph nodes in the center of the chest. This type of stage III cancer accounts for about 30 percent of all non-small cell lung cancer cases.

Patients were treated at multiple academic and community hospitals in the United States and Canada.

One group of 202 patients was randomly assigned to receive surgery plus chemotherapy and radiation, while a second group of 194 patients received just chemotherapy and radiation.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet, found the median length of time it took before the cancer began to progress again after treatment was 12.8 months in the surgery group and 10.5 months in the non-surgery group.